As a man, and a gay man at that, I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to be a woman. I don’t know what it’s like to have the other reproductive organs, I don’t know what it’s like to breast feed, and I certainly don’t know what it’s like to be pregnant.
Yet despite what you may think if you watched conservative male politicians around the world, I don’t work on the basis of “If I can’t experience it, it must be easy”. I have an imagination, I’m educated, and I’m willing to empathise with people.
There’s two nasty trends that are emerging around the world as politicians – mostly conservative ones – try to avoid doing anything positive about either their economies or the environment. One would think, given the level of ferocity they engage in their discussions that these are now the most pressing issues of all time and everything else has been solved.
On one hand, in places like Russia, and seemingly half of Africa, you’ve got thousands of politicians running around screaming about the ruination of society caused by even mentioning the word gay. Sad and scared little people leading sad and scared little lives determined to spread their sadness and littleness to others.
On the other hand though, you’ve got people attacking reproductive rights. Women aren’t the other gender in these arguments, they’re the enemy.
It’s ironic of course that in the cases where arguments against abortion are so vitriolic and impassioned, they’re so often accompanied by a fervent belief in the benefits of war and capital punishment. “Pro life” may be the biggest oxymoron of our generation.
Worse, these mendaciously unpleasant people who argue against abortion go so far as to make up complete untruths to justify their arguments: a woman can’t get pregnant from “legitimate” rape, for instance.
Despite what some politicians would have you believe, abortion isn’t an easy decision for most people. To be certain, there will be some people for whom it is an easy decision, and that decision may depend on the situation, too, but by and large every woman I know who has had an abortion has not entered into it lightly.
This body-politic, to usurp a term, is a dangerous and disturbing attitude that seeks to reduce the status of women from equal citizens to nothing more than baby-factories. A woman, these politicians (and some religious figures) would argue, ceases to have rights over her body as soon as an egg is fertilised in her womb. Regardless of whether that was done with her consent, regardless of whether it’s impossible for her to afford raising a child, regardless of whether carrying the a child to term is medically safe for her, and regardless of whether her intent was to get pregnant. Fertilised egg? Get back in the kitchen, cook some scones and carry that egg to term. And don’t forget to smile and think happy thoughts for baby. After all, in a world suffering staggering population growth with more than 7 billion people living on it, every fertilised egg represents a life that must be carried fully to term.
What a weird and disturbing world these rabid anti-abortionists live in.
Abortion isn’t a pretty topic. Yet, criminalising it, and criminalising the women who have to turn to it does nothing to solve the problem – it just makes a worse problem. Abortions don’t go away when they’re legislated against, they become backyard abortions, which present increased dangers.
The fact that abortion can be debated so vigorously in parliaments and congresses around the world, at times almost exclusively by men, proves that there’s not enough women in the political process. Sadly, it also proves there’s a lot of stupid, inconsiderate men out there who are unwilling to spend even an iota of their time empathising with the people they are legislating against.
We should be focusing on advancing equality in our evolving societies. Stripping rights away, reducing women to nothing more than baby factories doesn’t just demean women, it demeans all of us, and it drags us back towards barbarism.