Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mexico City Legalizes Abortion

While I am still reeling from the Carhart decision, it is reassuring to see abortion legalized in Mexico City. Granted, it is still just Mexico City and that still puts burden on poor women all over the country to try and find a way to the city for an abortion, but it is better than nothing. This will also mean that thousands of women will not risk their lives try to cross the border to secure an abortion here.

Reading through the NYTimes article, it never ceases to amaze me how programmed and thereby unthinking the opposition's criticisms are to abortion. To the very serious claims that women denied abortions are dying, comes this:

“The women of the Federal District are dying from clandestine abortions,” said Leticia Quezada, of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, which controls the assembly. “What we want is not one more death, not here, not anywhere.”

One the other side, Jorge Romero, of the National Action Party, said legalizing abortion would encourage irresponsible sex. “What we are legislating now, what we are asked to approve, is to support juvenile imprudence, unexpected pregnancies,” he said. “Understand this, lawmakers, you are legalizing killing.”

Honestly, men (or women) like Jorge Romero really frighten me. When faced with all the evidence of why women seek abortions, when faced with the evidence of how many women die when they are denied a legal and safe abortion, his response is (a) to criticize that women will become more sexually promiscuous (???) and (b) that abortion is legalizing killing (but the outlawing of abortion doesn't kill?)?

In a recent study on how the OTC status of Plan B has affected pregnancy rates (a study I need to discuss another time), the researchers also found that:

And the research makes it clear that having emergency contraception on hand does not increase risky sexual behaviors, she says.

Putting to one side the fact that empirically this claim is suspicious, the motivations of this claim are equally disturbing. The focus is always on women's promiscuity, never on men's or the possibility that women were raped by men. The story is always told with a misbehaving, unchaste, and therefore sinful woman at the heart of it. This is just plain fantasy; it bears no resemblance to the reality of women risking life and limb to seek an abortion.

When the anti-abortion folks start grappling with the real stories of women in distress and the real, painful moral dilemmas they have to wrestle with , I will pay attention. But the misogynist ad feminem attacks illustrate how weak their arguments are, not to mention the nefarious motivations.

As for the second objection, that any feminist and proponent of reproductive freedom has heard--abortion is legalizing killing--I say: yes, it is. But, it is not legalizing murder. Abortion does terminate (kill) the life of a fetus. Let's not mince words about this. The abortion debate should never be settled on that pronouncement. The question is: is it morally permissible to kill the fetus (see, I am using their language!)? To resolve this question, you need to actually take a look at the facts on the ground: why do women seek abortions? Is it purely a murderous rage against unborn life? If that you answered "yes" to that last question, then your world view is so frightening and unstable to me that I, frankly, would be more concerned about your actions than the women, who you paint in such unsympathetic and hateful ways.

Can we kill others without justification? This is one of the questions of the abortion debate. The answer, even for the opposition to abortion, is almost certainly "yes." We legalize killing when we allow self-defense. We legalize killing when we send soldiers to war. The very fact of legalizing killing is not what is morally problematic.