Alabama’s governor just signed into law the nation’s strictest abortion ban, which makes it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion under virtually all circumstances.
I’m not here to tell you why I think that’s a bad idea or to make you pro-choice.
I’m here to tell you that I’m scared, and that I wish you’d listen.
What has most frustrated me in the backlash of this ban is how often people who are against it are called “baby murderers” — these two emotional, evocative words placed back-to-back. They leave no gaps. You can’t argue in favor of baby murder. You aren’t given relief to explain yourself, to say this is what I’m experiencing, this is why I feel violated, this is why I’m afraid.
You’re given that impregnable label:
Your intentions, your actions, your beliefs, your thoughts, are assigned for you.
“They get abortions because they’re too lazy to bother caring for an innocent child.”
“They don’t want to stop drinking and fucking long enough to carry a pregnancy.”
“They think a baby’s life is disposable and that their youthful figure is more important.”
“They’re doing it because it’s convenient.”
“Because they refuse to take responsibility for their actions.”
“Suffer the consequences.”
“Shut your legs, you sluts.”
“Don’t be easy.”
“Not my problem if you don’t use a condom.”
“Stop whoring around and you won’t get pregnant. Easy.”
“You should have to live with what you’ve done.”
“It’s your fault.”
“You’re advocating for murder?”
Some pro-lifers spend so much time tearing apart people who disagree with them that they don’t stop to ask:
Why does someone want to get an abortion in the first place?
Go ask people who got abortions that. Why did they do it?
You’re going to hear a lot of different answers.
I was scared of being pregnant. I had no support. I couldn’t afford it. I already had kids and didn’t want another. My birth control failed and I didn’t want to be pregnant. I was assaulted. I just didn’t want to be pregnant.
It’s so much more complex than the word “convenience.”
Now, I’ve never gotten an abortion, but as many womb-having folks do — I’ve certainly thought about what I’d do if I got pregnant.
Personally, I’m scared of this law because if I ever got pregnant, I would absolutely get an abortion. I would get an abortion because my mental health is not in a good enough place to weather a pregnancy. I would get an abortion because I’m 20, I rely solely on my own income, and I’m self-employed — so should pregnancy complications keep me from working, I’d be fucked. I have no one else to rely on, no paid leave. It’s a risk I couldn’t afford.
And I’d get an abortion because I straight-up do not want to be pregnant. I don’t. I can’t imagine how terrifying it would be, and if given the choice, I wouldn’t do it.
I’m scared of this law because I can’t imagine having something change and morph my body without my consent and being able to do nothing about it.
That is terrifying to me. And with that last point, I hate that when I say it I get the response: “Well, your right to comfort doesn’t outweigh the baby’s right to life.” Okay, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less pants-shittingly terrified about it! That doesn’t make me feel better about the irreparable changes a baby would bring to my body! That doesn’t comfort me!
Are you even listening to what I’m saying!?
All people want is to feel heard. To feel that even if we disagree, the other side still sees us as human and not some sort of meat-based caricature.
In all my interactions with pro-life folks, I have to say — I have rarely felt humanized. I have often been called a murderer, had my words taken out of context, and been told that I believe things or behave in ways that aren’t true. Even when the responses are respectful, I still don’t feel heard.
And, quite honestly, being called a murderer doesn’t make me sympathetic to pro-life views in any way. If the goal of that is to convert me, they’re doing a piss-poor job.
What’s crazy about all of this though is that, if you really think about it, we should all be on the same team.
We all want to reduce abortions!
I’m a pro-choicer who firmly believes that the world is a better place when we can minimize the number of medical procedures a person needs. I know that we can’t stop all abortion, but there’s so much we can do to make it unnecessary in the first place.
But the key to stopping abortion — or, at least, reducing it — isn’t to call other people “murderers.”
As soon as you resort to that, to calling abortion “murder,” you’re making it clear that you really aren’t interested in what the person who’s seeking an abortion is experiencing. You’re not asking, “What makes you want to get an abortion and is there any way I can help?”
You’re blaming and shaming. And guess what? When people feel ashamed, they’ll still do whatever you’re shaming them for — just behind your back. So when women feel too ashamed to get abortions, they resort to shoddy at-home methods or back-alley techniques that can kill them. And when you’re the one making them feel ashamed, they won’t come to you for support. They’ll go to someone who’s shown they won’t vomit out judgment the minute someone does something they dislike.
Calling people murderers does nothing but hurt your cause — our cause.
So, pro-lifers, when you see so many people coming out against bans like that in Alabama, your first words shouldn’t be “Fuck off baby murderers, we win!”
Instead they should be “What would cause so many people to want to do something that I believe is murder?”
You find the answer to that, and you’re well on your way to reducing abortion.
All it takes is a minute to listen.