"If you had not chosen it, this state would be intolerable"
May 17, 2013 8:48 AM   Subscribe

"Oh, the indignities of pregnancy! They told me it would be beautiful and glowing. They did not tell me about farting loudly at bus stops." -- Sophia Collins writes about the horrible truth of being pregnant and why consent matters.
Rachel Coleman Finch concurs and explains why it made her more pro-choice: One of my mantras for getting through the hideousness that was my last pregnancy was "I consented to this".
posted by MartinWisse (64 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
For me, pregnancy has been an eye-opener. I am far angrier about abortion laws now, because now I know what denying women an abortion forces them to go through.

Man, this. Abortion was a really abstract thing for me to argue about at one point, but then when my wife was pregnant and there was Mystery Bleeding That Wouldn't Stop and I had the actual thought Is this going to kill her? (it didn't) the whole thing became anger making.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:56 AM on May 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


shakespeherian: "Abortion was a really abstract thing for me to argue about at one point, but then when my wife was pregnant and there was Mystery Bleeding That Wouldn't Stop and I had the actual thought Is this going to kill her? (it didn't) the whole thing became anger making."

My wife went through something similar. There were two points in her pregnancy where doctors sat us down and said something along the lines of "this situation could easily become life threatening and we need to discuss what options are available to you now."

The idea that she could conceivably not have had a choice in the matter is terrifying to me.
posted by zarq at 9:27 AM on May 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


I am not pregnant, I am not likely to have children (through choice) but I've read extensively and ravenously anything I can about individual experiences of being pregnant and raising kids because (to me at least) it's interesting and necessary to at least attempt to understand what the process might entail . I therefore get pretty annoyed when people who are assume no-one but those who have been or are going through it would have any inkling about the enormity and specifics of the undertaking.

Even so I wouldn't for a second assume I could *know* what the experience of bearing a child would feel like for me, or any other woman but it certainly wouldn't be news that it's a big fucking deal physically, mentally and emotionally. Am I a complete outlier? Is it honestly true that in general, people'who have not undergone (or been in close proximity to someone who has undergone) pregnancy would genuinely think it's all sunshine and flowers?

As such I find this a baffling angle to take. I think the people advocating for abortion have few illusions about what pregnancy can do to a person. Especially as, for the religiously-motivated at least, the risks and toll of gestation and childbirth are a feature not a bug (thanks Eve!).
posted by freya_lamb at 9:31 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


For me, pregnancy has been an eye-opener. I am far angrier about abortion laws now, because now I know what denying women an abortion forces them to go through.
Man, this. Abortion was a really abstract thing for me to argue about at one point, but then when my wife was pregnant and there was Mystery Bleeding That Wouldn't Stop and I had the actual thought Is this going to kill her? (it didn't) the whole thing became anger making.
I suspect that this is also exactly the same reason why religious organizations and many nations attempt to forbid abortion. As a guy, I can't understand why any woman would ever go through the nightmare of pregnancy. If I was a king or a pope bent on empire building, I would do everything possible to keep women ignorant of the difficulty of pregnancy and childbirth, and make abortion illegal.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:34 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I remember during my high school and college years having all sorts of "debates" with male friends about abortion, where almost all of them were very pro-life. I've always been pro-choice and stupidly loved arguing about hot-button issues with people I respected otherwise. During each of these discussions each of the following arguments would inevitably appear:

"It's just pregnancy!"
"It's just a few months!"
"You can just give the baby up for adoption!"

I remember one of these conversations that quickly devolved into an intense argument culminating with a friend ranting that it's not fair to say that he'll never understand what it's like to be pregnant and it was insulting to say that! But really, he was 20 and had no idea to the point that he didn't even know that he had no idea. I didn't really understand the intensity of pregnancy myself until I went through my own.

Which is not to say that it's impossible to understand things that you will never experience. Perhaps lots of thought, refection, and consumption of fine literature will get you there, but it's almost always a poor substitute for the real thing.

And certainly there are many other things besides child-rearing and giving birth that the average voter may never experience and have a hard time understanding. Personally, I'm never going to experience combat and I will probably never know what it's like to face hunger on a regular basis. However, I also don't vote for policies involving things like that with the assumption that I know what it's like and that it's not so bad. I wish other people would do the same.
posted by Alison at 9:37 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


While I am 100% behind the spirit and intention of both of these pieces and am a super-staunch supporter of abortion rights, I can't help being irked by Sophia Collins characterisation of the abortion legislation currently being debated in Ireland. The immediate issue in 2013 is not fear of the Catholic Church (although the CC is being predictably noisy) the issue is that Ireland cannot legislate abortion "on demand" without changing the Irish constitution, which is not going to happen by the EU deadline. The draft legislation is far far from ideal but is progress, and has some interesting loopholes that bode well for the future.

Separately, I would caution against a broad condemnation of religion as being against abortion; not all religions forbid it.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:42 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pregnancy is not terrible for all women, there is no one way of being pregnant, no "horrible truth." I had two delicious pregnancies.
posted by thinkpiece at 9:43 AM on May 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


I totally agree with the sentiment here, am totally pro-choice, and do feel that certain aspects of pregnancy and the need for abortion become a lot less abstract and a lot more pressing when it's been something you've experienced first hand.

I worry, though, about the trend of writing about pregnancy and motherhood as gigantic body-and-soul destroying tragedies for the average woman. I really think that this type of angle makes it harder for women who are experiencing actual serious crises to access help sometimes, especially without a supportive partner. For example, I heard so constantly during my last pregnancy that I shouldn't worry about not bonding with the baby, that all pregnant women and new mothers got "the blues" and resented their kids, that pregnancy and motherhood would radically destabilize my sense of self even though I'd chosen them, etc. that I started to wonder after a while about women who really do experience postnatal depression (I was fine). It seemed that the symptoms of PPD - which can be dangerous - were being normalized to such an extent that a woman who was really in dire straits might end up feeling like she didn't need help, that this was normal and she was a whiner.
freya_lamb: Am I a complete outlier? Is it honestly true that in general, people'who have not undergone (or been in close proximity to someone who has undergone) pregnancy would genuinely think it's all sunshine and flowers?

As such I find this a baffling angle to take. I think the people advocating for abortion have few illusions about what pregnancy means. Especially as, for the religiously-motivated at least, the risks and toll of gestation and childbirth is a feature not a bug (thanks Eve!).
On preview, exactly - I think abortion and birth control rights need to be advocated for separately from the overblown narrative of universal maternal suffering - it isn't an argument that convinces opponents, and it may even make them stauncher in their opposition. (How many anti-abortion women have you seen say that pro-choicers hate kids and/or pregnancy and they feel like the only people in the world who enjoy being mothers?) Situations where abortion is life-or-death are crises - they are not some variation on every woman's terrible pregnancy experience, and sometimes I feel like we've elided that, at the expense of women (and sometimes babies) who need serious attention paid to their specific situations.
posted by Wylla at 9:44 AM on May 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Making abortion illegal does not stop it, it just makes it less safe, writes Collins."

There used to be whole wings of hospitals whose only responsibilities were to treat and care for women suffering the consequences of failed, back-alley and non-sterile abortions. The stories from that era, if you can find an old nurse willing to tell them, are beyond horrifying. But because women have much better access to prenatal care and sterile abortions those hospital departments just don't exist anymore, and virtually nobody participating in the modern debate over abortion rights are even aware they existed, much less familiar with the actual gory details.

I'm thinking we should do everything we can not to regress to that. It was, to all reports, incredibly awful.
posted by mhoye at 9:52 AM on May 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm dedicatedly pro-choice, but I have to say I get a little tired of the smug certitude in the pro-choice world that nobody in the anti-abortion camp is ever arguing in good faith; that the only motivation any of them have is wanting to punish and/or subjugate women. There are good people on both sides of this issue, and people who have gone through pregnancy and understand perfectly well how challenging and life-altering it can be on both sides of this issue and I suspect that more political progress could be made on it if people would bear that fact in mind more than they do.

If you genuinely believe that terminating a foetus is morally equivalent to killing a person then it is clearly, at the very least, a defensible position that the woman who happens to be carrying that foetus should be required to go through with the pregnancy, even at the risk of a grave personal cost to themselves. To suggest that the revelation that pregnancy is difficult and dangerous somehow magically solves the abortion conundrum ("Oh, gee, I didn't realize, pregnancy is hard--well, I sure have egg on my face; you run along and get that abortion now!") is to suggest that everyone in the anti-abortion camp secretly already agrees with the pro-choice side and is just waiting for the most transparent of excuses to jump teams.
posted by yoink at 9:52 AM on May 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


Even so I wouldn't for a second assume I could *know* what the experience of bearing a child would feel like for me, or any other woman but it certainly wouldn't be news that it's a big fucking deal physically, mentally and emotionally. Am I a complete outlier? Is it honestly true that in general, people'who have not undergone (or been in close proximity to someone who has undergone) pregnancy would genuinely think it's all sunshine and flowers?

I keep thinking the idea that pregnancy=no big deal is due to assholes making jokes about "shitting out a baby" making it sound like women are weak and over dramatic about labor and pain, and that pregnancy is a means to rope a reluctant man into financial responsibility or marriage or is a woman's way of getting out of having to have a job. Like it's an easy way to make money.

I read celeb gossip all the time, and when I read about actors like Dave Foley and Brendan Fraser being behind on child support payments, the comments always characterize the mother as a lazy woman who got pregnant on purpose to extract money from them and she should get a job, support the kids by herself, etc.

Two of my male coworkers once had a discussion about taking their used condoms with them because they insisted a girl would just fish them out of the trash when they left and use a turkey baster to get pregnant. It was fucking ludicrous. They could not believe otherwise. Someone must have told them that getting pregnant is just sitting around and eating ice cream with pickles and not a big deal.
posted by discopolo at 9:53 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pregnancy is not terrible for all women, there is no one way of being pregnant, no "horrible truth." I had two delicious pregnancies.

I think even the most stridently pro-choice can agree that eating fetuses is wrong.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:53 AM on May 17, 2013 [42 favorites]


I think even the most stridently pro-choice can agree that eating fetuses is wrong.

This. You really weren't supposed to eat them.
posted by discopolo at 9:55 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


thinkpiece: "Pregnancy is not terrible for all women, there is no one way of being pregnant, no "horrible truth." I had two delicious pregnancies."

And I had three absolutely wretched (though not life threatening for either me or the child I was carrying) pregnancies - hyperemesis all three times, crippling sciatica with the first two, symphysis pubis dysfunction (my pelvis separated early and the bones ground against each other when I walked/moved - this one still hangs around) with the third. And the post-partum depression I had to fight after the birth of my two eldest is part of that experience as well.

We hoped the first time around was an anomaly. The second proved that hope wrong. The third, which was unplanned but generally welcome, my husband and I did sit down and talk about whether me being pregnant, sick, and generally unavailable to him or our older children, was something we were willing to proceed with. That is the closest I've ever come to considering terminating a pregnancy. I'm happy now that we decided to tough it out, as our youngest is an absolute joy, but it was hard. And at some points, horrible.

I don't tell this story to scare anyone. But it is my honest experience - my horrible truth - and I think too often stories like mine get dismissed as exaggerations or outliers. I'm glad you had two delicious pregnancies, I really am. I wish I had had even one. But my experience is real, and I think it is important to take stories like mine as valuable and as an important piece of the discussion about reproductive freedom.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 9:59 AM on May 17, 2013 [22 favorites]


Pregnancy is not terrible for all women, there is no one way of being pregnant, no "horrible truth."

My mother was pregnant three times, and says that no two of her pregnancies were exactly alike.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:05 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


the idea that pregnancy=no big deal

I find it pretty hard to believe that this is a genuinely widely-held belief. It's certainly not a traditional belief in Western culture--where the discomfort of pregnancy and the agony of childbirth is specifically named as God's punishment on women for Eve's sin. For centuries childbirth was a kind of Russian Roulette in which the odds for neither mother nor baby were all that great and if you read references to childbirth from traditional western literature it is usually hedged around with immense fear, uncertainty and, if all goes well, palpable relief. Can anyone grow up watching Western pop culture products and not be exposed to a whole catalogue of complaints and anxieties surrounding pregnancy? We no longer have the same high fear of mortality, to be sure, but no sitcom treats pregnancy as a continual state of walking on air; and every historical drama loves to dwell on the agony and danger of pre-epidural childbirth. I'm sure these things don't become truly "real" to many people until they have first hand experience, but I think it's simply false to suggest that the difficulties of pregnancy are somehow "hidden" or "taboo" in Western cultural discourse.
posted by yoink at 10:08 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I suspect that this is also exactly the same reason why religious organizations and many nations attempt to forbid abortion.

No, they just simply don't think about it. They're not trying to deliberately punish women for having sex, they just don't understand why it's such a big deal because they don't get pregnant.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:10 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Honestly, I work in women's health but know very few women who have had children yet. If I wasn't in my profession, I think my perception of pregnancy would be very similar to that of a lot of my friends: birth is really scary and painful but worth it, pregnancy means you feel tired/have a backache and maybe have mood swings, definitely hilarious cravings; after birth, you're emotional for a while and your body doesn't look the same. No discussion of serious long-term health challenges, no bone displacement, flatulence, diabetes, whatever. I don't think sitcoms represent pregnancy as walking on air, but aside from birth, they put it on about the scale of PMS: funny! alien to men! those ladyfolks and their needs! can't fit into clothes! chocolate, ice cream, and pickles, right?

For context, we're largely well-educated women in our mid-20s on the West Coast. The knowledge of pregnancy we have comes either from direct experience or feminist texts.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 10:15 AM on May 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


"Making abortion illegal does not stop it, it just makes it less safe, writes Collins."

But because women have much better access to prenatal care and sterile abortions those hospital departments just don't exist anymore, and virtually nobody participating in the modern debate over abortion rights are even aware they existed, much less familiar with the actual gory details.


These kind of conditions definitely still exist. We have a very good modern day example - Kermit Gosnell. Pretty much everything he did was illegal. Women went to him out of deperation or because they didn't have better choices. I would argue that the reason for this is because this country puts so many barriers up for women who may want to get an abortion despite the fact that it is still legal. So while it may not be be unavailable in literal terms, it is functionally unavailable for many women. Kermit Gosnell's clinic is what illegal abortion looks like.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:17 AM on May 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


if you didn't read the entire article, just skip to the end where the author suggests that members of government and church need to take quizzes on pregnancy/birth/child development/parental responsibilities. expand this quiz to include information about what mhoye said above about the history/horror of botched abortions. just imagine the failure rates of these quizzes. where this issue is concerned - no matter which side you are on - i think we can all agree that the people in charge of decision making need to be more informed.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 10:26 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


But my experience is real, and I think it is important to take stories like mine as valuable and as an important piece of the discussion about reproductive freedom.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 12:59 PM on May 17 [1 favorite +] [!]

Absolutely! All the stories count, and the experiences are real and personal and indelible. Just get a couple, three women who've had babies together. I've heard every variation on the pregnancy experience imaginable -- from wretched to delicious.

At the same time, we need to be careful we don't pathologize pregnancy, from a women's health perspective, a cost perspective, a workplace perspective. That would be a step back.
posted by thinkpiece at 10:29 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think I'm going to ask my doctor about a tubal ligation when I see her next month.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:31 AM on May 17, 2013


Pregnancy is feeling an alien creature moving, autonomously, inside your body. The books said feeling the foetus move for the first time would be "a magical moment". No it was not. It felt freakish and weird and gave me a moment of pure existential terror.

Yeah, I'm definitely asking her.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:38 AM on May 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


mhoye: There used to be whole wings of hospitals whose only responsibilities were to treat and care for women suffering the consequences of failed, back-alley and non-sterile abortions.
Citation?

The numbers of women who died from illegal abortions have been inflated in the past for political reasons (some more reasonable numbers), and exaggerated statistics supporting our side are no more helpful to engaged discourse than are those told on Fox News.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:59 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It isn't bad for everyone. I had a great pregnancy. My hair and skin were perfect, I was sleeping a solid 9 hours every night, I was content, I was happy. I didn't have any problems. At all. When when she started to move around in there - it was amazing. I'm not super tall, 5'8". But my height is through my torso so the kid had some serious real estate in there. No cramping. About 2 weeks before she was came, I found out we could play a little game. If I was sitting in my office chair just right and she had her behind arranged just so, she'd move a little and I'd pat a little and she'd wait, then move again, and I'd pat her some more. This would go on until I ate something and she went to sleep or got up and moved around and she went to sleep. I realize that many people have problematic pregnancies. But if they were all problematic, nobody would do it anymore, except for the people that seem to be doing it too much in the first place. I think one of the reasons I had such an easy time of it was lack of stress. I was single, I was not having to raise a family or tend to a husband while I was pregnant, I had complete decision making control over everything and there was just nothing to worry about.

My good friend down the street is a doula and lactation consultant and she's working towards her midwife certification. She has great stories about births and pregnancies all the time. I wish there was some way to extract all that positive pregnancy juice and dole it out like blood transfusions to women who have hard times with their pregnancies. I haven't had the luxury of 2 pregnancies and likely won't. I didn't get married until my daughter was four and about a year in, I had a miscarriage early on - blighted ovum, and that sucked worse than the worst parts of anything having to do with actually carrying a baby to term and delivering. One day you believe there is life and the next day, you find out, no life. Now I'm almost 41 and I won't try again. Another baby would have put a strain on my marriage, but a problematic pregnancy or a child with problems would undo my marriage. Not because my husband is a bad guy, but because he just can't deal. He'd fall apart like a two dollar suitcase under the stress of it all.
posted by PuppyCat at 11:00 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Coincidentally, I was just having a gripe session about a co-worker who is pregnant (but was insufferable before), and someone said "I don't get it, you're not angry when you're pregnant, you're happy!" The person who said this is a woman who has a child, so it made it weird for me as a man to point out that was not the universal experience.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:04 AM on May 17, 2013


I wandered off track there, but consent does matter. I think as much as consent, getting pregnant on purpose makes a difference as well. As opposed to waking up one morning and wondering why your cigarettes taste like shit. I am a firm believer in safe, legal abortion. I had an abortion when I was 20 - 8 weeks in. That sucked too, except I had a bad ass doctor and wife team. I interviewed clinics before I picked where to go (not everyone has this luxury) and that doctor was so kind to me. He sat and talked with me in a sunlit office and said "You're bringing me a problem and leaving it with me and you can go home afterwards". *Having had a child, I couldn't go through it again, but it is a necessary option.
posted by PuppyCat at 11:06 AM on May 17, 2013


I therefore get pretty annoyed when people who are assume no-one but those who have been or are going through it would have any inkling about the enormity and specifics of the undertaking.

I'm a guy who read Birthing from Within and a variety of other book length resources during my wife's first pregnancy, but I don't think it makes me *know* what it is really like. I've supported my wife through three pregnancies and births and what I have is an eye witness experience -- she has the pregnancy and birth experience. I'll readily admit that I don't, at a deep level, know what she experienced.

All I know is that I tried to be useful and sympathetic because as an observer my take away is that pregnancy is often difficult and emotionally taxing.
posted by dgran at 11:16 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I chose to have a baby at 17. Had anyone been truly frank with me about how physically hard this would be, I probably would not have proceeded with the pregnancy. I had all kinds of problems during pregnancy and a grueling 37 hour labour. It took me a year to recover physically.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 11:17 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


So I think that's reasonable - choosing to carry a pregnancy to term doesn't mean it's not going to be terrible. I guess my thinking was when I got pregnant with my daughter, I was actually doing my dead level best not to get pregnant and it happened anyway, and it was the best experience of my life, regardless of the fact that the man I was dating was doing his dead level best to not impregnate me and did not like my choice of keeping the baby. I gave him the option to participate or not to participate and he walked away. I was 33 and that was probably my one and only shot and I wouldn't have done it any differently. I spoke to him when my daughter was two and he had no regrets and no desire to see her, which I guess to the average outsider sounds awful, but it's not.
posted by PuppyCat at 11:24 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Briefly wanted to get pregnant. Second I actually got pregnant, Sheer Terror and What Was I Thinking??!!!

I was 40. Three weeks of feeling pregnant, felt like a weird miracle and a deadly crisis all at the same time. The bloating made me wonder how a growing baby could possibly fit without just exploding out of my body. I couldn't understand how women couldn't tell that they were pregnant, or treated pregnancy as just a little nausea and giggling about baby showers. Prayed for a miscarriage, got one. Would probably have had to go to the abortion clinic all by myself, the thought of which was terrifying too...
posted by whatdidyouforgettoday at 11:24 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Consider salmon. They swim thousands of miles, back from the ocean to the upper reaches of the rivers they were born in to spawn. Or they die in the attempt. It is a grand, heroic journey, the central narrative of salmon-hood. If salmon wrote novels or made films, that is what they would all be about" made me laugh. Not just a snicker, either. "Coworkers craning their necks around to see what's so funny" laughing.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:25 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


elsietheeel: " Yeah, I'm definitely asking her."

My wife's pregnancy was filled with complications. She went into labor and nearly gave birth at 29 weeks and also had a bunch of other issues throughout. Anemia, gestational diabetes, months of bedrest, etc. When our kids were born she was very happy.

About 2 weeks before they were born, we sat down for a consultation at the OB's office. The OB who was seeing her that day wasn't her primary. The way it worked at the practice (and apparently this is common?) is every doctor in the practice would see you, because you never knew who would be on call when you went into labor and they wanted you to be familiar with the people who might deliver your child. They did this even for patients like my wife, who were planning a scheduled c-section. Darn good thing, too. My wife's water broke about 36 hours before her c-section appointment and her primary didn't deliver our kids.

Anyway, we sit down in the office, the doctor opens my wife's chart, looks down and starts laughing. When she caught her breath, she said, "Your main doctor left a note in your file. Would you like to know what it says?"

"Sure?"

"Well, this is scrawled in big letters above the signed form for your tubal ligation. It says, "[zarq's Wife] does not ever, ever, EVER, EVER, EVER want to be pregnant ever again, EVER."
posted by zarq at 11:32 AM on May 17, 2013 [23 favorites]


If you genuinely believe that terminating a foetus is morally equivalent to killing a person then it is clearly, at the very least, a defensible position that the woman who happens to be carrying that foetus should be required to go through with the pregnancy, even at the risk of a grave personal cost to themselves.

But that's the crux of the issue. Who are you (or I) to mandate that someone else take great personal risk? Even to benefit another human being?

Pro-choicers are not moved by that argument, and it's a very old argument, because it still argues for the state taking away one person's autonomy to benefit another person (if you believe a fetus is a person; and then you get into viability arguments; and then it all goes down the rabbit hole we are familiar with).

Even with born children, we don't legislate that a mother must, say, jump in front of a bullet or an oncoming truck.

I have told my prochoice conversion story many times, so I won't again, but the nitty gritty is; is your aim is to prevent suffering and death, and are you are opposed to declaring the bodies of women to be the property of the state (so long as they are fertile anyway)? Then the best, very best thing you can do is advocate for universal access to contraception, earlier access to abortion (because that's less morally discomfiting), ending poverty (a common reason for abortion), and in general universal health care, daycare, and parental leave. Those things will a) dramatically lower the rate of unwanted pregnancy and b) allow women who might be inclined to have a baby if it wouldn't destroy them economically to decide to do so.

If you do not do those things...and every single major "prolife" organization does not, and fights those things tooth and nail--then you are not arguing in good faith. You are not actually considering the suffering of women, and you are only considering the suffering of children while they are still fetuses.
posted by emjaybee at 11:33 AM on May 17, 2013 [40 favorites]


Oh yeah, here is a good example of the anti-birth-control bullshit the prolife organizations put out. Their agenda has nothing to do with saving precious babies, except in the way that the idea of saving precious babies can be used to keep women from exercising any control over their own bodies or lives whatsoever.
posted by emjaybee at 11:39 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The knowledge of pregnancy we have comes either from direct experience or feminist texts.

Your own pregnancies? This might be tied into the fracturing of American family structures - on my mother's side, her large (2nd Gen) immigrant family like to assign the adolescent children as "mother's helpers" for the pregnant women and for families with infants and toddlers.

Amazingly, we all waited until about 30 to have kids, and every one was planned...
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:45 AM on May 17, 2013


It isn't bad for everyone. I had a great pregnancy.

It's not so much how you experience the pregnancy, or how many or few side effects you suffer from though, isn't it, as it is the simple fact that any pregnancy is a health risk.

To make a somewhat dumb analogy, I've been a kidney donor whose operation went relatively smoothly (though I did have a wound infection afterwards), but there was the risk that something could've gone wrong. These risks were explained to me and I could consent in full knowledge of these risks.

The same should be the case for pregnancies and what Sophia Collins is arguing that without the possibility of terminating a pregnancy when needed, is it possible to have consent?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:48 AM on May 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


The knowledge of pregnancy we have comes either from direct experience or feminist texts.

Most of what I know about pregnancy came from hanging around Grandma's kitchen table and listening to the aunts trade war stories.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:52 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


the man of twists and turns: Your own pregnancies? This might be tied into the fracturing of American family structures - on my mother's side, her large (2nd Gen) immigrant family like to assign the adolescent children as "mother's helpers" for the pregnant women and for families with infants and toddlers.

My WASPy New England-since-the-Mayflower-ish-family definitely didn't have this tradition, alas. My sister is having her firstborn in a few months and I've been reading, reading, reading about how to help and consulting with some doctor and postpartum doula friends so I can do something other than flail around.

Most of the direct experiences come from being caretakers or close family with women who have had children.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 12:05 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


In my personal experience as a straight lady, "pregnancy = no big deal" (in addition to "terminating a pregnancy = no big deal") are, in fact, frighteningly common attitudes. The attitude itself may not be overtly obvious, but the message is definitely there, and you can find it just a scratch beneath words and actions that have been fully normalized.

For example, the overwhelming majority of men with whom I have gotten busy have openly expressed -- even if just briefly -- their desire to not use a condom or any other type of barrier protection during sex. This happens regardless of how well or how long we've known each other, if we're FWB or in an LTR or nearly strangers, regardless of how devoted they say they are to the concept of feminism and reproductive health rights. This desire, which can definitely manifest as verbal and/or physical pressure, is expressed as though it is somehow important or even remotely relevant. There is absolutely no acknowledgment of the burdens that I, as the only one of us who happens to be equipped with a womb, would be forced to bear if the result of our unprotected coupling was the creation of a new human being.
It's only when I bring out the big guns -- "So, you're gonna help me pay for an abortion, right? Drive me to another state so I can have a medical termination, head over to the clinic with me and hold my hand for the surgical option, or at the very least take me to the pharmacy so I can snag a box of Plan B?" -- that they begin to reconsider their position. Unless I speak up with an actual list objecting to the bullshit I'd have to endure if I got pregnant, I always get the sense that they think getting knocked up and/or terminating a pregnancy are pretty much no big deal, par for the course, or just not particularly serious. If they didn't feel that way, I doubt they would be quite so cavalier as to suggest forgoing birth control.

The idea of being forced to carry a pregnancy to term is my absolute worst nightmare, and it has been that way since I was very young, but I still can't find a doctor to sign off on a tubal ligation or Essure because I'm only 30 and I haven't had kids yet. I'm actually contemplating crossing state lines to see if I can find a sterilization-friendly OB/GYN because I'm so tired of being told that I'll eventually choose to change my mind.
That people who cannot and will not ever be able to be pregnant make up the majority of the groups who can make decisions about a woman's ability to make choices about her own reproductive capabilities -- particularly when it comes to controlling the availability and/or breadth of those choices -- makes me feel dissociative.
It seems like no matter what my feeble lady-brain might believe, unless there's some huge political sea change before I hit menopause, men will perpetually make up the majority of any/all governing bodies with the power to so magnanimously dole out allowable reproductive choices to women.
mhoye: There used to be whole wings of hospitals whose only responsibilities were to treat and care for women suffering the consequences of failed, back-alley and non-sterile abortions.
Citation?

The numbers of women who died from illegal abortions have been inflated in the past for political reasons (some more reasonable numbers), and exaggerated statistics supporting our side are no more helpful to engaged discourse than are those told on Fox News.
IAmBroom, you called out mhoye to demand a citation and then, presumably to support your point that illegal abortions aren't really THAT unsafe, you linked to a section of a Wikipedia article that contains zero (0) sources/cites save a single quote, purportedly published in a 1970 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, that references a single year's worth of statistics. The year? 1957.

The section directly above the one you linked begins, "Unsafe abortion is a major cause of injury and death among women worldwide. Although data are imprecise, it is estimated that approximately 20 million unsafe abortions are performed annually, with 97% taking place in developing countries. Unsafe abortion is believed to result in approximately 69,000 deaths and millions of injuries annually," and cites a 2006 study by the World Health Organization. It continues: "The legal status of abortion is believed to play a major role in the frequency of unsafe abortion," and again cites the World Health Organization.

If you are going to state that the number of women who have died as a result of illegal and unsafe abortions has been inflated for political reasons, and present your personal belief as fact rather than conjecture, I just have to ask: Citation?
posted by divined by radio at 12:29 PM on May 17, 2013 [38 favorites]


Pregnancy is feeling an alien creature moving, autonomously, inside your body. The books said feeling the foetus move for the first time would be "a magical moment". No it was not. It felt freakish and weird and gave me a moment of pure existential terror.

I'm the dad, so I didn't directly feel this within my body, but I can unequivocally say that the experience of the baby moving -- both for myself and my wife -- was a never-ending source of awe that was as wonderous with the third kid as with the first. From virtually any perspective -- the fragility of life, our shared connection and origin with other creatures on the planet, the amazing complexity that allows a woman's body to develop and nourish an entire sentient entity in nine months -- watching and feeling a baby move is mind-blowing.

Of course, that's just anecdotal. For others I guess it's "freakish and weird."
posted by pardonyou? at 12:30 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was walking behind a couple women the other day and they were discussing something they had heard, that "one gets larger faster with a second child." I then noticed one was noticibly pregnant. I had one of those moments were I knew my reality was different. That's always a strange feeling.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:58 PM on May 17, 2013


pardonyou?: "I'm the dad, so I didn't directly feel this within my body, ...""

Exactly. You didn't directly experience it. And that, I think, is the crux of the argument. Unless you, with your own body, experience pregnancy, you are an observer. You may be an intimate observer, but you do not know how it feels from the inside of your body to feel something moving inside your abdomen. You do not know how it feels to be pregnant for 40+ weeks, to give birth vaginally or by c-section, to recover from that experience physically and emotionally. You DON'T KNOW.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 1:05 PM on May 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Exactly. You didn't directly experience it... You DON'T KNOW."

Well, one, I was only commenting on the "baby moving inside" part -- I wasn't making a claim that a pregnancy is uniformly amazing. My wife had three c-sections, all under general anasthetic (two emergency -- the first a placental abruption, the second a uterine rupture due to failed VBAC -- and one due to low platelets which prevented an epidural). So I'm plenty familiar first-hand with fear and emotional pain, and second-hand with physical discomfort and pain. That's why I made no claim that pregnancy is an entirely positive experience, at least for us.

Second, as I said, my wife found the "baby moving inside" part to be just as transcendent as I did -- or at least she said she did. It's possible she was lying to me and found it freakish and weird, but I doubt it.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:12 PM on May 17, 2013


Especially as, for the religiously-motivated at least, the risks and toll of gestation and childbirth are a feature not a bug (thanks Eve!).

I recognize that the view I got filtered through my tradition and social circle isn't necessarily universal, but "feature not a bug" isn't ever how this got described to me. "Consequence" would be the strongest that ever got, and even that was rarer compared to the more common just-so-story explanation of how the real difficulties of pregnancy (among other things related to a general fall) got to be the way they are.

Then again, I was also taught that abortion, while never something to consider casually, is an option when consent was never involved or when it represents a threat to the life/health of the person carrying the child.

These positions may not be satisfactory to some, but there's significant space between them and "women *should* suffer by carrying children, particularly those who have sex."

Maybe this is also part of why, weirdly, the connection between pro-life positions and religion vs pro-choice and various humanist positions seems backward to me. I feel more morally comfortable about abortion when viewing the issue through a religious lens -- in a context where people have eternal souls and an omnipotent deity interested in human lives is working to oversee things for good, it seems reasonable to be confident that any incipient humans waiting in the wings for a completed pregnancy will get their turn. *Of course* you prioritize the life, health, and choice of the mother when this is the case.

It's when I view the issue through the idea that human supervision all we've got for human lives, where people are their bodies, where the incipient human is the fragile unique genetic identity that gets this one shot and *that's it* ... that's where it seems so much more tragic to cut off a pregnancy and abortion-related decisions seem so much more fraught with moral/ethical import.
posted by weston at 1:32 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


For example, the overwhelming majority of men with whom I have gotten busy have openly expressed -- even if just briefly -- their desire to not use a condom or any other type of barrier protection during sex.

That's because they think that for women hormonal birth control=no big deal. Never mind the increase risk of stroke or the spotting/breakthrough bleeding or mood swings. They think the pill doesn't have side effects that can make a woman feel shitty. Some women love it and thrive on hbc but some women can't because of side effects. But somehow this does not compute.
posted by discopolo at 1:38 PM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Not to derail, and I'm certain many other women have had different experiences, but the desires to go without condoms that I've been presented with have come out only after I've specifically pointed out that I am not using any form of 'invisible' birth control whatsoever -- be it the pill, IUD, NuvaRing, Essure or otherwise -- for the exact reasons you list.

That's the kind of thing I bring up very clearly and immediately with prospective partners, but I still get excuses about how condoms just don't feel right or how they're barriers to real intimacy or how I don't need to worry because they'll just pull out or or or...
posted by divined by radio at 1:47 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think that Eve's Curse (menstruation, the pain of childbearing, being secondary to men and specifically to her husband) is pretty common throughout the ages in Christianity.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:12 PM on May 17, 2013


Here's an argument about it that pops up on the first page of google results.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:24 PM on May 17, 2013


divined by radio- tell me about it. It's really horrible that so many men, and liberal men at that, seem to have this misperception that birth control is a thing women will take care of and they are owed sex without obligation to children if they say they don't want children yet somehow don't have to wear condoms or get a vasectomy.

I think abortion should be a choice but not because people are owed consequence free sex at the expense of children who might actually be born.

I think this is a dangerous thing to promote for child welfare. If you choose to have sex you could accidentally get pregnant and you could change your mind about abortion even if that was your (or the guys) back up plan. This is not rare, this is very normal and it's how a large portion of women are becoming single mothers (whether they actually want to be single after the fact or not).

People can not, NOR SHOULD THEY, promise an abortion to a partner, or even to themselves, before experiencing a pregnancy. Some people find it's much easier to get an abortion than they thought when they really need one, and some people find it's much harder or that their feelings change radically one way to the other.

Consent to pregnancy is IMPORTANT but I also think when you consent to sex you are consenting for the potential you might create a child even if that's not your plan unless you or partner are 100 percent sterile or same sex.

I also think that if a woman gets pregnant by rape decides not to have an abortion it's not the same as "consenting to pregnancy". It's simply a choice not to get an abortion which is different than consenting to the forced pregnancy that already happened against their will.
posted by xarnop at 2:29 PM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Once you get the ability to put yourself in someone else's situation, pro-choice is a no-brainer.

Consent to pregnancy is IMPORTANT but I also think when you consent to sex you are consenting for the potential you might create a child even if that's not your plan unless you or partner are 100 percent sterile or same sex.

What if you use a condom?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:40 PM on May 17, 2013


mrgrimm, I am totally prochoice- because a woman should be allowed to determine at what point an embryo/fetus should obtain personhood status since there is no good scientific manner of determining this, no social agreement about when that point should be, and it's in the woman's body making her the logical one to make that decision.

However that does not mean that people who have consensual sex have no obligation to at least consider a child might happen and look out for that child's interests if a child should come to be. Men's right's groups have been trying to advocate men should be able to abandon their children by the same logic "no one should be forced to be a parent!"

I'm just saying, if you choose to have consensual sex, you are putting a child at risk of coming into the world (both the father and mother) and both have an obligation to care for the child as best they can unless they both agree to find suitable adoptive parents to take over the role. If it's between tossing a kid out on the streets or trying to rear it, then yes I think we should socially encourage people who produce children to look after them as best they can, even if the children were accidents. The children had no say in the matter and deserve to be put before parents desires to not care about the offspring they themselves were responsible for creating. And people who know they would abandon/dislike a child on creation might think twice before assuming abortion is a sure back up plan (ESPECIALLY MEN assuming their partner owe's them an abortion or must accept their abandonment of their own child).

I think people get tripped up on my comments on this subject because I am both pro-woman and pro-child- and sometimes when the interests conflict I am in fact more pro-child than pro-women do whatever they want. I do not believe parents should have the right to abuse or abandon their children even if the child is an accident. HOWEVER, I believe abortion is a legal means to ensure a pregnancy does not become a child rendering the question of parental obligation to such children no longer an issue. I am extremely pro-choice and the fact that I believe both parents have obligations to their children IF A CHILD HAPPENS does not change that at all.

I'm pro-choice but I think we need to examine the reasons and the language we use to say why pro-choice is good. Like saying being gay is ok because it's biological is not a good argument, saying abortion is good because no one should have to care about their own children is not a good argument for abortion in my opinion.

We have other, many, and more awesome reasons abortion should be legal and safe and accessible.
posted by xarnop at 3:03 PM on May 17, 2013


Drive me to another state so I can have a medical termination

divined by radio, I think you're really awesome, but you're not helping your case for Wisconsin AT ALL.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:07 PM on May 17, 2013


Of course, that's just anecdotal. For others I guess it's "freakish and weird."

This crystalized something in my head about how pregnancy and motherhood is treated in the US which I think is ultimately damaging for women, mothers, and their children.

There's this idea that if your response is outside of the presumed narrative "this is wonderful and magical" that there is something wrong with you. It doesn't allow for a diversity of responses within the context of consent (I'm not touching the issue of women forced to carry a fetus; I consider it barbaric).

The experience of one woman finding motion inside of her freakish, weird, and existentially terrifying does not negate the experiences other women have of it being utterly amazing and magical. It can actually be both for different women, or even the same woman at different times, and that's ok.

There's a defenisiveness against some women's experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood which troubles me.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:36 PM on May 17, 2013 [17 favorites]


The experience of one woman finding motion inside of her freakish, weird, and existentially terrifying does not negate the experiences other women have of it being utterly amazing and magical. It can actually be both for different women, or even the same woman at different times, and that's ok.
There's a defenisiveness against some women's experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood which troubles me.


This. Being pregnant for me mean having to come to terms with no longer being in control of my body in a way I'd never experienced before. It was terrifying. In fact, I became a little obsessed with the movies Rosemary's Baby and Alien because they communicated the visceral terror I felt in a way that words simply couldn't.

Ultrasounds would snap me out of it a bit - a momentary "Oh yeah! There's actually a baby in there! Awesome!" - but I would then find myself sucked under again by the incessant and inescapable discomfort and sense of malaise. On the outside I looked fantastic; pregnancy looks good on me. Inside however was just a dark abyss of emotional and physical discomfort.

Feeling movement was uncomfortable - having every inch of your uterus touched, kicked and squirmed against (like a rush-hour MUNI train in my womb!) for hours on end - but was somewhat reassuring in that it meant that my child was alive and not in crisis. It was never a particularly "magical" experience, however.

I love my child and would have loved to have been able to get pregnant again and have another. That is not at all the same as enjoying being pregnant.
posted by echolalia67 at 6:04 PM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's this idea that if your response is outside of the presumed narrative "this is wonderful and magical" that there is something wrong with you

Has this been your experience? From people with children or the wider culture? I've had pretty unpleasant pregnancies -- nothing dangerous in any way, just miserable. I've never gotten anything but "amen sister" for my general "they're sweet when they come out but they're bastard parasites while they're in there" opinion.

But maybe that's just a reflection of the fact that I spend a lot of time with people who are also parents of young children, like the author mentioned.
posted by gerstle at 6:16 PM on May 17, 2013


But that's the crux of the issue. Who are you (or I) to mandate that someone else take great personal risk? Even to benefit another human being?

Pro-choicers are not moved by that argument, and it's a very old argument, because it still argues for the state taking away one person's autonomy to benefit another person (if you believe a fetus is a person; and then you get into viability arguments; and then it all goes down the rabbit hole we are familiar with).


Well, as you say, this is a familiar argument and not one we're going to settle here. But, again, I think it is one that can't be "won" with arguments like the one you trot out above, because it's essentially question-begging. It's an argument which will always have force for pro-choice people (as it has force for me) because we do not believe that the foetus is a "person" with all the normal rights and claims on our responsibilities that a "person" has. So, sure, we're very willing to be persuaded that "no person should be forced to put their life and wellbeing at risk for some hypothetical "potential person.""

But stop and think for a moment if you genuinely, absolutely and truly believed that the foetus was a person. Does it really seem like such a slam dunk argument to you to say "well, I have a right not to be inconvenienced or put at risk even at the sure and certain cost of another person's life?" Would you say that the state has no right to force, say, a parent to be both inconvenienced and put at some degree of personal risk for the sake of their 9-year-old child? Because that doesn't seem like a slam dunk to me. I'm pro-choice because I reject the premise of the anti-abortion argument ("the foetus is a person"), but I think if we accept that for at least some substantial number of those who consider themselves to be anti-abortion this premise is a firmly and genuinely held belief we can't pretend that simplistic libertarian claims about the limits of our responsibilities to other people are likely to be particularly convincing.
posted by yoink at 6:26 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I find it pretty hard to believe that this is a genuinely widely-held belief.

I'm going out on a limb here and guessing you have not ever been a pregnant women, or recently an incipient father - forgive me if this is not the case. In my experience, here in Australia, with my partner's pregnancy, it was totally a widely held belief - a belief that extends to having an infant and dealing with young kids, I must say.

There is a window where it doesn't really apply I think: newish parents and parents with kids under, say 10-ish. But for people whose kids are old, time has done the work in both erasing the difficult memories and misapplying the days of yore when only one parent worked etc and rush hour meant it took 30 minutes instead of ten to get somewhere.

But when you don't have kids, you don't typically spend a tonne of time with those people. You spend it with people of your generation that also don't have kids, and older people whose kids are older - and in those cohorts the belief is very common, at least for us it was.

Additionally, I think there is a third cohort - men who just don't get it. It doesn't matter what demographic they fit in; their attitudes will never change.
posted by smoke at 6:45 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Count me as one of the women who, upon feeling her baby move for the first time, had a minor freak out. And not in the "oh, that's so magical and amazing" way. If I could have run screaming from it, I would have.

I got over it, and after a while started to freak out when I DIDN'T feel her move...but those first two weeks were unnerving.

I had a "perfect" pregnancy until week 36. Then I had preeclampsia, followed by an induction, followed by an unplanned c-section. Despite Bradley classes, reassuring midwives, and tons of positive thinking, I still wound up having a delivery high in interventions, not to mention four days in the NICU for our wee one. And yet...we are planning on doing it one more time in a year, when my incision has healed enough to make a VBAC potentially possible.

Also, as others have mentioned, the act of going through all this has left me even more pro-choice. than when I started Because...wow. I cannot imagine having to go through this if I weren't looking forward to the final payoff.
posted by offalark at 7:21 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


But the thing is, yoink, the state has otherwise no authority to compel any one person to do anything on behalf of another person's well being. The kidney donation mentioned above is a good example - what if a 9-year-old kid needed a kidney or bone marrow transplant to live, and for whatever reason their parent (who is the only match for them) refused? We don't (and can't) make the parent give up autonomy and control over what goes on in their body even if it can save a life. You can't grant full personhood to fetuses without necessarily stripping it from the women who carry them, because those women would be forced to take a positive action for the sake of another "person's" life.

Even if people truly and genuinely believe that a fetus is a fully-formed human being from conception, they must necessarily accept that they are stripping autonomy and personhood away from women. That may be a moral calculus that they decided works for them: the rights of the fetus trumping the rights of the mother. But I don't think nearly enough people in pro-life advocacy are even acknowledging the mother's burden at all.
posted by Phire at 9:54 PM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'll consider that the "pro-life" camp genuinely cares about the welfare of the fetus as soon as they start talking about childcare, health care, maternity leave, and food assistance.
posted by Go Banana at 7:23 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


divined by radio is reminding me of a book I finished recently that totally ticked me off.

The book was Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb. The scenario is that a group of people and dragons are emigrating to a lost city. Most of the dragon keepers have been rejected from their society for coming out with dragonish traits from birth, which usually means that if the girls get pregnant, they will probably either die in childbirth, have deformed/dead babies, or both. In the Rain Wild society, dragonish kids who survive are flat out forbidden from ever having relationships for this reason.

However, of the 3 girls who are emigrating in this storyline, once they've left society...one of them decides she's going to get love in any way she can and starts sleeping with all the dudes. Of course, birth control doesn't exist and it ends about as well as you could have guessed from my previous paragraph. Another girl (Thymara) is sensible enough to refuse to have sex, given that it could kill her. But then several of the dudes start harassing her to "choose" some guy to fuck already, or else, well, they start hinting to her that she will be raped. One fellow is genuinely romantically interested--or so he says--but it takes her forever to finally explain why she won't "choose." And when she finally says that she doesn't want to die of pregnancy, his reaction is....to whine and say crap like, "But you're not willing to take a little risk for meeeeee?"

OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. HAVING SEX COULD KILL HER AND ALL YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT IS SHOVING YOUR DICK IN?!?!* That guy lost all fucking sympathy with me after that and I just want him to die. What an asshole. And apparently this behavior is fairly typical IRL as well.

* from what I've heard about the end of this quartet of books, I should probably stop reading right here.

I'm freaking terrified of pregnancy (as seen on the last Mother's Day thread, I believe). It always seems like there are some people who will drag you off into a corner to tell you all the horrible things it did to their body--and between that and the family stories of dead babies, man, I don't wanna. Pro-choice forever, y'all.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:03 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am someone who found intrauterine movement to be both transcendent and beautiful AND freakish and weird. It's not an either or. I also remember the experience of throwing up into the bathtub because I hadn't made it the extra 18 inches to the toilet, pissing myself in the process because my (ridiculously strong, professional singer) abdominal muscles were throwing my uterus into my bladder, and feeling deeply betrayed, because I hadn't expected this degree of awfulness.

Pregnancy is draining, transformative, and visceral. But not metaphorically! Literally! The fetus literally drains nutrients from your body, literally transforms your body and your mind, and is literally in your viscera. All those words that we use to talk about intense, indescribable experiences, they are all literally true of pregnancy. You can't dismiss it without going through it -- and every pregnancy is so unique that you can't dismiss it at all. Some women sail through their pregnancies without so much as heartburn, others end up with their cervices sewn shut, in the hospital on IV hydration, with drugs being infused into their bodies that cause blinding headaches and racing hearts, on bedrest with their feet above their heads, for months. And the real bitch of it is, you don't know which one you're going to get until you're there.
posted by KathrynT at 10:03 AM on May 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


PuppyCat: "I realize that many people have problematic pregnancies. But if they were all problematic, nobody would do it anymore, except for the people that seem to be doing it too much in the first place."

and
xarnop (being quoted): "Consent to pregnancy is IMPORTANT but I also think when you consent to sex you are consenting for the potential you might create a child even if that's not your plan unless you or partner are 100 percent sterile or same sex.
mrgrimm: What if you use a condom?"

I once knew a woman who, with her husband, had gotten pregnant 4 times while using 6 methods of birth control. (Yes, two of those times they were doing the belt-and-suspenders thing, e.g., condom plus diaphragm, or cervical cap plus pill — not that I know the exact details.) People do not always decide in advance "hey, let's get pregnant and have a baby now". Birth control is not 100% effective. Some people are just really, really fertile.

(Also: "the people that seem to be doing it too much in the first place"? What? Did you intend that to come off as dismissive and othering as it seems, PuppyCat?)

yoink: "If you genuinely believe that terminating a foetus is morally equivalent to killing a person then it is clearly, at the very least, a defensible position that the woman who happens to be carrying that foetus should be required to go through with the pregnancy, even at the risk of a grave personal cost to themselves."

Are you familiar with the violinist analogy?

And although I'm not a lawyer, it's my impression that in most jurisdictions, for things outside of the realm of pregnancy and childbirth the law is pretty clear that there is no legal obligation to place one's own life at risk in order to save or attempt to save the life of another.

yoink: "To suggest that the revelation that pregnancy is difficult and dangerous somehow magically solves the abortion conundrum ("Oh, gee, I didn't realize, pregnancy is hard--well, I sure have egg on my face; you run along and get that abortion now!") is to suggest that everyone in the anti-abortion camp secretly already agrees with the pro-choice side and is just waiting for the most transparent of excuses to jump teams."

Actually, in many cases so-called "pro-life" people are indeed arguing in extremely bad faith, and as soon as the negative consequences of pregnancy start to impinge on them or on people in their family they decide that "the only moral abortion is my abortion".
posted by Lexica at 7:48 PM on May 18, 2013


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