My Body Is Not Your Battleground

Originally posted on nikbunting.me on October 21, 2011.

Welcome to this week’s second installment of Nikki’s Soapbox.

If you can’t surmise from the title, this is going to be about abortion. It’s a tough and touchy subject to discuss, but I think the time has more than come for those of us that avoid uncomfortable conversations to speak up and let our voices be heard. Because respect and social politeness hasn’t kept others from speaking out. My voice might not be loud, it might not be steady, but I should not remain quiet when those who are so much louder are getting things done that I disagree with.

Full disclosure: I am a woman. I am single. I take birth control. I have had sex and I enjoy it. I have no intention of marrying. I have no intention of having children. I am an atheist. Yes, I am pro-choice. No, I have not been in the position where I personally have had to make the decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy or see it through, and I hope that I never will. However, if I ever am in such a position, I believe that I have the right to accurate, unbiased information about my options.

Now with that out of the way, no, I am not writing this to convince you one way or the other. You have the right to make up your own mind. I am writing because I need to.

I’ve been wanting to write this post since I came across a post by one of my acquaintances from college on Facebook. Normally I avoid posts that I know are going to set me off. When you’re already having a crap week, you don’t need to enhance that by going down the rant-inspiring path by reading triggering posts (I fall into that trap enough by going through my blog feed every day). But I read it and…I’m glad. Yes, it was very pro-life and, yes, it did get my dander up. However, it also got me thinking about the abortion topic in general and why I am pro-choice, and I am a big proponent of thinking and questioning especially when it comes to hot-button topics like abortion, religion, politics, etc. It’s hard to put aside emotion, and maybe you shouldn’t entirely, but things shouldn’t not be discussed. So I actually responded to the poster and thanked them for making me think.

And also remember my rant/promise to myself a few weeks back about not biting my tongue just to maintain social harmony. Why should I remain silent? You can argue that there’s a time and a place, the other person’s not going to be swayed, etc… But if you’re ultimately respectful and keep your cool (always my biggest challenge), why the hell not speak up? If something is being said that you strongly disagree with, it’s your responsibility to voice your opinion.

So, while I’m going to do my damnedest to be courteous here and not fly off all a ranty and start throwing pens like I did in debate, I’m also not going to hold back.

Where do I begin?

My body is mine and mine alone, from the hair on my head to the cells in my ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. The same holds true for every other person on the planet (woman, man, transgendered, in between, and beyond). My body, your body, our bodies are not political, religious, or moral tools.

As with researching anything, but particularly concerning abortion, one should go to multiple sources but also one should be very aware of the credentials/background/agenda of those sources. Type “abortion” into Google and the top three sites are: Wikipedia, Planned Parenthood, and AbortionFacts.com.

I honestly think Wikipedia is a good first stop because it pulls from multiple places and gives a good broad overview, not to mention links to the sources cited and gives additional links as well. Wiki shouldn’t be your only stop, but it’s a very good place to start.

Planned Parenthood’s site wasn’t a gold mine of information, but what was there was a decent overview that, if you wanted to argue it, skews slightly to be reassuring. However, it does point out the risks in an even-handed fashion that I thing balances that out.

AbortionFacts.com is what scared the bejeezus out of me for its presentation of statistics and various facts (or “facts” depending) in a very blatantly anti-abortion and heavily pro-life manner. Do a bit of digging on who is behind the site and the stance is not a surprise (Heritage House 76 is, in their own words: “committed to the sanctity of life at all stages and to the traditional values of the institution we call the family. Because we value human life above all things our number one priority is serving you.” And improving the world “by saving babies and serving families.”). I have no problem with there being sites skewed one way or the other, but you shouldn’t call yourself something so misleading when you very clearly have an agenda. What you have here are opinions with some facts in the form of statistics thrown in. From what I can tell, there is no disclaimer and the “Our Mission” link specific to the site is dead. I only found out who/what Heritage House 76 was and their mission by going direct to their site linked in the copyright info.

What makes this site even more frightening to me is that it is pro-life period. While not explicitly saying no exceptions for rape or incest, it all but states such in the arguments. To which I reply in all seriousness: Seriously? I had to walk away for a bit after that both when I first read it and now.

At least the fourth search result states explicitly up front what its stance is: Abortionno.com.

The fifth search result is for the National Health Service in the UK, which I just found interesting. Number seven is also UK-based. Eight is a New York Times article.

As for US-based medical sites, that comes up at number six (eMedicineHealth from WebMD) and nine (MedlinePlus from the National Institutes of Health). Yes, number nine for the NIH.

So that’s my little mini-adventure in web-research on abortion.  Now for my answers to frequently posed questions/arguments.

Is abortion murder? No. You aren’t terminating a life; you’re terminating a potential life. There’s no guarantee that those cells would develop fully into a viable human being. It’s a dangerous, gray, semantic argument there. However, that is what I believe.

But conditioning from society makes it very hard to say no and leave it at that. The emotional baggage and stigma attached to abortion arises from so many people clinging to Puritanical ideas about sex and the vilification of sexuality. Abortion wouldn’t be the issue it is with solid education about sex, potential consequences, and the myriad of options for protection and contraception. Open discussion about sex and everything related would help the situation immensely.

What about adoption? This I haven’t done much research into, but my understanding is that there are far more unwanted children out there than there are people who want to adopt them. Furthermore, it seems that the younger the child is the better the chance of their being adopted. What about the others who are too old and are left to grow up in the foster system, or worse, on the streets or in bad homes?

Also, the human population is fast approaching seven billion. Billion, with a b. Think about that, really think about it. Think about the current economic situation, the amount of starvation and poor harvests, shelter, resources other than food…

I could go on and on, but I’m running out of steam and have babbled long enough.

In closing, my body, my choice; your body, your choice.

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