More on fetal personhood
by Chloe Angyal
Here's what Planned Parenthood had to say about the personhood bill that passed in North Dakota today:
"The bill was specifically crafted as a challenge to the Roe v Wade decision. HB 1572 could also outlaw contraception as well as medical procedures used to treat tubal pregnancies and infertility.
HB 1572 is dangerous, far reaching and allows the government, not women and families, to make critical decisions about health care. Women and families, not politicians, should decide what’s best for their unique circumstances. Whether the issue is abortion, birth control, or in vitro fertilization, women, in consultation with doctors should make these personal medical decisions."
I couldn't agree more. Where life begins is an issue on which we're never going to agree, but that's no reason to take the decision of whether or not to have a child out of women's hands. Even more than taking the decision away from women, personhood rhetoric takes the woman totally out of the equation, as though the fetus gestates in some magical place that has nothing to do with the woman carrying the pregnancy. But pregnancy is about women, as well as about the fetus.
Some of us see the fetus as a fully human life, with the same rights to life and happiness as the woman carrying it. Some of us don't, and worry more about the life that's already fully actualized and that might be seriously damaged by bringing an unwanted child into the world. And we're never going to agree, for a whole host of reasons. But taking away the option of abortion is not the answer. Taking away the option of abortion leaves women powerless and desperate, which fosters an even less compassionate attitude towards the fetus than exists already. Forcing pregnancy on women, millions of whom don't share the view that the fetus is person, leaves those women with no choices and no say in their own future. And for those of us who care deeply about women's health and women's lives, leaving women with no say in their own future is simply not acceptable.
If you don't believe in abortion, no one's going to force you to have one. No one's going to tell you what's right for you; no one should have that right, least of all the state congressmen of North Dakota. In the same way, no one should have the right to tell a pregnant woman who isn't prepared for motherhood what's right for her. Your beliefs that the fetus is a person or that abortion is a sin shouldn't be forced on women who don't share those beliefs. Just as you've been given the choice to have a child, perhaps the best decision you've ever made, so should another woman be given the choice not to have a child; that might be the best decision she'll ever make.
This world is cruel, and for children who aren't wanted, who aren't properly cared for, it is crueller still. We owe it to future generations to ensure that every single child who comes into this world comes into is wanted, loved and cared for. When we force women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, we guarantee that that won't be the case. And children deserve better than that.
By now, pro-life readers will be livid with me, just pro-choice readers were livid when they saw the results of today's session in the North Dakota House. But there's good news for both sides: There is a solution that will allow us to bring down the number of abortions in this country. That solution is a combination of contraception, accurate sex education and better support for mothers and children. If you really want to stop abortion, fight for those things, not for legislation that slaps a "person" label on the fetus. That label is a cure. But contraception, sex ed and support for mothers and children, that's prevention. Without those things we cannot hope to even begin eliminating unwanted pregnancies. Without those things, abortion will remain inevitable, and far more frequent than any of us would like.