A Feminist Speaks Out on Abortion
"There is tremendous sadness, loneliness in the cry, 'A woman's right to choose.' No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg." Frederica Mathewes-Green
How did it come to this?
Mary Krane Derr says that in any civilization, laws protecting the weak from the strong belong to the irreducible core of justice.
Daphne de Jong says that women's demand for abortion is evidence of self-hatred and total rejection of a vital part of our personhood and sex identity.
Linda Bird Francke says that an abortion is a shock to a woman's system, particularly to the womb. Both she and de Jong speak of the womb as a woman's emotional core.
Adrienne Rich says that abortion is a deep, desperate violence inflicted by a woman upon herself.
Rather than treat our reproductive capacities as cause for celebration, we have yielded to the male view of ourselves as imperfect men. We have shown a profound absence of personal strength in the face of this latest assault on our personhood.
We had high hopes in the '60's. We were about to achieve equality. We would have substantially the same pay for substantially the same work. We would have similar opportunities for advancement. We would have similar educational achievement. We would have equality in the courtroom. We would not be forced to choose between career and motherhood. We would be strong, and take pride in being female.
Two or three decades later, our hopes have been dashed. What do we have to show for it?
We can attack ourselves. If we become pregnant at an inconvenient time, we will attack ourselves, and we will take pride in having done so.
Well, I say, NEVER AGAIN.
We have spent hours arguing with each other about whether the child we are carrying is fully human or not. We rest, go home and eat and sleep, and then we spend hours, once more, arguing about whether the child is fully human or not. The irony of this debate is that we as women have tried to establish that we are fully human, crying out in rebellion against a social order that has given us second-class humanity since time immemorial. What have we gained? Nothing! Women are still forced to wear black clothing in a desert climate, completely covering their bodies, because men refuse to control their lust. Women are still forced to submit to genital mutilation. Women are still raped in time of war. Women are still raped in time of peace. We can go to our martial arts classes and learn how to fight back, but women are still subjected to domestic violence, both physical and verbal, and to being forced to watch and acquiesce while our children are attacked.
How can we demand to be recognized as fully human if all we will do with that is turn around and deprive our children of the status of being fully human?
We have no pride! We do not cry that being female is beautiful. Instead, we ape men. We must be like them in every way. We must be sexually like them. There is shame in demanding a commitment before giving away our most prized possessions: our bodies. Or is there?
We think we must be aggressive. We have forgotten how to receive graciously. If I admit to other feminists that I can thank a man for holding a door for me, graciously, will I be shunned? I, of course, will hold the next door open for the courteous man. Why should I respond to courtesy with hostility? Rather than seeing graciousness as a put down, let me demand that the man be gracious to me all the time. Let him be gracious to me when I seek equality in the workplace, in the marketplace. Let him be gracious to me when I am pregnant!
Why do my sisters tolerate abusive men? Why will they stay in an abusive relationship? When I was a teenager, the boy who sat in front of me in history class wanted to date me. I found his mind intriguing, so I was willing to spend time with him. He taught me to play chess. I like chess. He taught me to appreciate progressive jazz. But he didn't respect me. I wasn't aware of this at first. One night, he demanded that I let him kiss me. For me, kissing is a precious gift. It was something I wanted to save for my husband. I have that right! I am woman! I refused. He slapped me on the rump. I showed him the door, and I never looked back. Why am I different? Why did I nip an abusive relationship in the bud? Why don't all women demand respect?
Women are afraid. We think that if we don't do exactly what the man in our life wants, we will lose him. If we don't do what is best for our own well-being, (and I'm not talking selfishness here, but just that I expect to be respected and nurtured, not taken advantage of sexually and emotionally,) then why do we even want this man in the first place?
Woman's answer has always been, we have no power, no strength, no self-sufficiency. If we don't submit, we will lose our security. So we submit. We want to be loved, but we mistake sexual aggressiveness for love. We want to be nurtured, but we mistake being kept as nurture. We cannot seek a good man; we must wait for him to seek us. If we get noticed, then we better pay attention because if we don't, then we might lose the only man who paid attention to us, and then we will be alone! Somehow, being abusively noticed is better than being alone!
There are not enough good men to go around. And we do too little to deserve a good man. Are we willing to do our part? Will we nurture him and our children? Will we respect his body, and give ourselves only to him? And do we cry out in rebellion that so many men are abusive and vicious and violent to the women they claim to love? No! We turn on ourselves! We let a man take advantage of us; we sell our bodies at a discount, and then, when we become pregnant, we go let some man attack the inmost part of our being, and rape and scrape with cold instruments of death, and we take pride in that! How sick can we get?
I, for one, will never take pride in abortion! Abortion is a hateful attack on ourselves, a self-immolation, an act of suicide by proxy.
What is a woman's sexuality? It is different from a man's. We have many dimensions to our sexuality that have no counterpart in male sexuality. We carry young inside our bodies in the most intimate relationship known to the human race. We can feel our children, and we can interact with them. That kind of bonding and union will happen nowhere else among human beings. When they are born, we have the capacity to have an intense sexual experience. And yet, women all over the world are so wrapped up in the pain of birth, that they never experience the other sensations at all! Why cannot we concentrate on helping women be healthy so we can experience the joy of the sensations! Having given birth, we then can nurture our children at the breast. Once more, this is part of our sexual experience which a man will never know. What has happened to us? Why do we turn our backs on our own sexuality, and attack our own sexuality, because our children are an inconvenience for men?
A woman is deceived into an abortion, and she thinks she has freedom of choice!
We are refusing to face the fact that women have turned against themselves and their own womanliness. We refuse to face the fact that women are dying from legal abortion. We refuse to face the fact that you can scrape a baby out of our bodies, but you cannot scrape her out of our hearts.
And while you are at it, don't call the baby part of my body! I bore three boys. There is no way their sexual organs were ever part of my body!
A woman may not know that abortion is highly dangerous. She is being deceived, and we acquiesce to that deception and abandon her in her hour of greatest need. All the people who make money off scraping out our bodies tell us that abortion is safer than childbirth. Balderdash! Since when is the disruption of a normal womanly function, a sexual function, safer than doing what comes naturally: being pregnant and giving birth? This is insane, my sisters!
And now we are being told that the new and improved abortion involves drugs and plugs. We have been given yet another way to destroy ourselves. Now we are supposed to pollute our bodies!
I say again: Abortion is rape with cold instruments of death!
What do we want to become? Do we want to turn into simpering, snivelling little piles of rubbish and go to the courts and say, "Please let them rape me!" and go to the legislators and say "please, please let them continue to rape me!" and to some sick excuse for a human being called an abortionist and say, "Please, please, please rape me"? Is this what we want to become? What is wrong with us?
I have had women tell me that access to abortion is empowering. If being a colossal bully is empowering, I want no part of it! From time immemorial, people have been deprived of rights because someone else was a bigger bully. Now do we aspire to be the biggest bullies of all, and destroy our own children in the name of freedom? No! There is nothing empowering about picking on someone. All it does is demonstrates to the world that we have no self-esteem! Sister, go pick on someone your own size!
We are being told that abortion is nothing. We are being told that we should not regret. We are being told that we should not grieve, and that we should not suffer. We are being told that we should not be in agony. And if a woman speaks out of her agony, she is being silenced!
Is it surprising that so many women are suffering mental anguish, sometimes with no hope of ever recovering? It is any wonder?
We are being sold a bill of goods. And some of us are buying.
We have suffered abortion for thirty long and terrible years!
Why are we doing this to each other? Why?
I AM OUTRAGED, MY SISTERS!
We must start by recognizing that abortion is an abomination against womanhood and humanity! It is not something to take pride in, and it is not something to choose! You know how they say, what if they gave a war and nobody came? Well, what if they offered an abortion and nobody accepted? If we were being true to ourselves, abortion could be legal everywhere, and NO ONE WOULD SELL ONE ABORTION TO ANY WOMAN.
We must start by realizing that we have been sold a bill of goods. We must start by REBELLING! In the name of equality, the only thing we have gained is the "right" to attack ourselves and our children!
Don't give me abortion! Give me equality!
Abortion is SICK!
I hereby RENOUNCE abortion as the evil lie it is!
I hereby REBEL against abortion! Totally, completely, utterly.
I say once more:
GET YOUR ABORTIONS OFF OUR BODIES!!!
Copyright © 1999 by Pat Goltz
Permission is hereby granted to any person to reprint this essay in its entirety, without comment, with proper credit.