Caitlin Johnstone

Abortions Should Be Commonplace and Guilt-Free

Clearly, the lawmakers of Alabama are happy to take control of my uterus. Well, regarding abortion, I have a couple of things to say.

 

Alabama state lawmakers have passed a ban on abortion, including in cases of rape and incest. Under the new law, doctors facilitating a pregnancy termination will be sentenced to 99 years in prison. Alabama has four female state senators. Not one of them voted in support of the bill.

This draconian law is designed to send a legal challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court with the goal of destroying abortion rights for women in any state that passes similar legislation. It is an assault on female reproductive sovereignty, and it degrades our species as a whole.

As we discussed the other day, female reproductive sovereignty is absolutely essential if humanity is to overcome the crises that are looming on the horizon without resorting to ridiculous measures like deporting humans off the planet to live in Amazon Space Tubes. All that is needed to beat overpopulation is for women around the world to have access to money and total reproductive sovereignty; to be able to access birth control and abortions whenever they need them without guilt trips and societal pressures.

 

 

Because, guess what? Having a child is really, really hard, and most women when given a fully-informed and pressure-free choice won’t choose to do it very often. You know how I know? I have had two children.

I was brought up Catholic and was fully indoctrinated by my schooling into an anti-abortion stance. Do you want to know what changed my mind? Having a baby. It was the hardest, most life-changing, body-changing, mind-changing thing I have ever done. Every single thing about my beingness had to submit to accommodate my baby. From the morning sickness, through to carrying the child to term, through the long months of breastfeeding and sleep deprivation, to the fact that I had gone from being the primary concern in my life to secondary in every way possible. Every plan I had every made for myself necessarily had to go out the window.

I realized with some shame that as much as I loved my kid, I should never have so arrogantly assumed that I had the right to guilt other women into such an extraordinarily radical permanently life-altering decision. I had no right to shove some random stranger’s life on to a totally different and unwanted trajectory because I had some weird religious ideas about the potentiality of a bunch of replicating cells. That’s a severe intercession on her free will and I have no right to do that.

Having said that, women who have babies are superheroes. I live for the day when it’s mothers who are thanked for their service instead of soldiers. When you become a mom, you immediately become a passenger in your own life, and your child’s needs take the driver’s seat. Every single thing becomes relative to what’s best for your child. You don’t mean it to, it just happens. I was not a particularly selfless 25-year-old when I had my first baby, and overnight I was no longer numero uno in my life anymore.

And it’s so hard. In a world that is so toxic to life in so many ways, protecting your little baby to adulthood requires every ounce of creativity and inspiration you have in you. As hard as having a baby is on your body, bringing up a child with relative sanity in a world that is freaking crazy is even more taxing on your mind. My babies are nearly adults now, and I still have their needs first in a permanent but ever-changing to-do list in my mind. In fact, I decided to take on this role when I saw them become more and more depressed about the mass extinctions, the dying reefs, the de-oxygenating oceans full of sea life-killing plastic, the lead-laden drinking water and rivers ruined by fracking as our environment suffers death by a thousand corporatist paper cuts and the planet itself becomes more and more toxic to life. The kids see all this. They’re not stupid and they have the internet. It’s heartbreaking to hear them talk to each other, making these nihilistic jokes about their grim future, wryly noting that their parents’ generation does nothing but drag our feet to try and milk a few extra bucks out of an exhausted Mother Earth.

One day, I found myself saying, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this. Let me deal with this, I’ll fix it.” I didn’t know how and I still don’t but I set my intention and committed myself to doing anything that needs to be done.

 

 

I’m locked in. There is nothing more determined than a mother on a mission. And here’s the thing: if I fell pregnant now, you could forget about my daily zingers for the first three months because I’ll be as sick as a dog with morning sickness. There will be a window of about 45 days where I might be able to write, but pregnancy brain is a thing so don’t expect me to be all that sharp. And then you can forget about the next two to three years that will be taken up with the all-encompassing task of getting over the labor, getting breastfeeding established, sleep deprivation, working my way through a buttload of hormonal anxiety, and the day-to-day task of protecting a tiny vulnerable little being who is so utterly helpless that you can see his little brain pulsating through his fontanelle throughout all his development stages until he can walk around on his own two feet and make his own cereal.

Which is why, if I get pregnant now, I will happily have an abortion. I’ve never had one before but I’d cheerfully have one now because I think what I’m doing right now is important and I choose to put it first. I choose to put it first because paradoxically I choose to put my children first. I put them on earth, they deserve to enjoy a long life on a healthy planet. I really should’ve sorted that out before they got here.

But also (and this is something I have only recently become powerfully clear on), I would have an abortion because I have the right to put me first. This is literally my body and I get to say who’s allowed to lie around for nine months gestating in it. I have the right to decide when it is appropriate to bring a baby into the world. I have come to realize too that taking a stand on this is essential to our ongoing survival as a species. Returning women’s sexual sovereignty is the only healthy way to curb overpopulation. Every woman needs to be able to make the decision of whether or not to have a child, because we are the ones with the internal wisdom to know when we are in a safe and abundant enough situation to nurture a child to a healthy adulthood.

For the majority of single women in the United States right now, and especially in a state as poor as Alabama, choosing to have a baby is choosing to live in poverty. Until the work of child-rearing and mothering is honored appropriately with sufficient monetary value, then anyone who criminalizes abortion is forcing women into poverty against their will. This, by the way, is slavery. Forcing people to do work against their will and without recompense is slavery, and gestating and raising a child is hard, draining work.

 

 

And for those “it takes two to tango” people who never fail to bloviate endlessly about how this would all be solved if a woman just kept her legs shut, read this devastating throw-down by a Mormon mother of six who lays out an unassailable argument about why every single unwanted pregnancy is always indisputably the man’s fault. Men could easily stop their sexual partners from needing abortions if they chose to change their behavior. This is a watertight fact. So, if you, as a man, find abortion reprehensible, well that’s fine, read this thread, make the adjustments you need to make, and you will never put a woman through one.

Women have spent the last few thousand years accommodating men’s irresponsible sexual behavior, mainly because we were scared you’d kill us or starve us or both. That must end if we are to halt overpopulation and free up half the population’s energy and creativity to put towards reversing our current perilous predicament which is a fun-house mirror of the same weirdly gross paternalistic desire to insist we make all the babies. This sick obsession with making women pump out every single baby mirrors our omnicidal thrust that insists on infinite growth on a finite planet. Females in most species of animal are the ones that put the brakes on fertility, and now more than ever we must be allowed to firmly plant our collective foot.

 

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