no brainer: abortion is killing. so what?

kelley kcwalker at
Mon Aug 23 14:56:59 PDT 1999

this is the deal. i think abortion is killing a potential life. i've had one and i've been a long time activist for abortion rights, arguing for the absolute unconditional need for abortion. i was almost aborted [drat! huh carrol?] back when it was illegal and yet i still absolutely support legalized abortion.

in the spirit of max's initial murmurings and auto-generated, auto-erotic postings on this topic i would say that, as abortion rights advocates, we don't do ourselves any favors by running about telling everyone that having an abortion is like having an appendectomy. not a lot of people agree with this and yet most people still think abortion ought to remain legal. that is, i think we ought to respect the fact that people think this way right now. there's not a whole lot you can do about that and having them read arguments about the history of abortion doesn't make much of a dent. people think what they think right now. in this case, the dominant tendency in the US is for people to think of the issue as a personal, private moral dilemma and that the state ought not be part of it. out and in yer face about it among folks other than the folks at pro-choice rallies is likely to backfire in our faces.

one thing we have on our sides is this: the RTLers are in yer face assholes that alienate a lot of people by their actions. i think it's probably wise to keep that sentiment in our favor by not engaging in similarly stupid actions. i liked michael's suggestions about boycotting businesses that support RTL, but terribly in your face stuff will make us look as bad as them. there's a time an place for those activities; this isn't one of them.

in that sense, i'd be pragmatic about using the "I'm here, I've had an abortion, get used to it" strategy. I'll use it here on LBO because i suspect my audience can deal with it and be persuaded, perhaps. I wouldn't use it at a welfare rights meetings necessarily, particularly since, at those meetings, there are plenty of women of color who tend not to support abortion. i don't know about you yoshie, but when i used to do the petition thing, women of color slammed the door in my face pretty quick. *none* of them were willing to have their names printed in the local paper in an ad supporting abortion rights as part of our response to RTLers staged their friggin' protests every spring. they didn't go to our counter demonstrations either, though they might privately support and contribute to abortion rights activities.

how to defend oneself against the right-to-lifers and the "abortion is murder" argument?

it's a no brainer. abortion is killing but it's not murder. in the first place, we already make distinctions about killing v. murder do we not? that is, the legal system recognizes differences in first degree murder, manslaughter, accidents, crimes of passion, self defense, property defense, and so forth. when someone is convicted of killing someone else, they are penalized differently according to the crime and the degree to which the crime was rational, pre-planned [in cold blood], the result of criminal negligence, the result of supposed irrationality/passion, etc. if it is completely an accident or in self-defense then it's not considered actionable as a form of murder or manslaughter or even involuntary manslaughter.

given the logic already embedded in the legal system, some forms of killing aren't actionable [e.g., suicide one was punishable whereas now it's generally not]. it is really not much of a leap to argue that abortion is justified and ought not be punishable or considered that big a deal even if you killed another potential life. if it is okay to kill someone out of self-defense, then it is surely okay to have an abortion for absolutely any reason a woman might choose. the person who killed for reasons of self-defense will likely have all sorts of moral quandaries about that act or not. that's okay and we allow that, don't we? then it's okay and we should allow and respect different understandings of what abortion is or isn't. it's rather unfair to impose one's moral beliefs on others by telling them that their thinking about abortion, even if they are staunch pro-choicers, is somehow wrongheaded. the point is that abortion, however understood, is not a moral act for "the state" to punish by making it illegal, even though individuals consider it moral.

everything we do or don't do is about moral decision-making. the point is whether the state ought to be involved. in this case, abortion is killing, not murder.

as for whether this argument feeds into the RTLers arguments against public funding for abortions, well the orig point of this thread was about making concessions for the sake of coalition building. that's a concession i'm willing to make since it's already the case that there isn't public funding for abortions. as for the issue max raised--political platforms or deal making/negotiations regarding public health care provisions among leftist parties--well it's pretty clear to me that, were such a thing ever to come about, the abortion docs and the medical community would surely want to get a piece of that action. it will be in their interest to make abortions part of a socialized health care delivery system and to keep it legal.

so, it seems to me that prioritizing might not be such a bad thing.

first, fight for unconditional access to abortion whenever possible second, fight like hell against attempts to undermine abortion access. third, concede on the public funding issue in order to get socialized health care delivery in the first place __IF that's what is necessary. fourth, when that magic day comes [and even before] start working with the medical community to get them on board with the idea that abortion should be part of publicly subsidized health care. that's a no-brainer and it will be easy, for the most part, to get such a powerful community on board with that one. fifth, abortion rights activists, right now, ought to work toward getting the ratfucker HMOs to push for maintaining and expanding abortion services and access too, since their damn logic is all about preventative health care.

ps., the whole woman rights vs. child's rights is a big fat duh. the issue isn't about that, it's about a woman's right vs. the *STATE's* interest in protecting a potential life. the state has no interest in protecting an unborn child's life. the viability issue is a canard that would be pretty much meaningless under a different set of social conditions.

pps., bullshit blahbedeblah about moralism is it's own godamed moralism in which you simply impose your own "you should think this way and act that way" on others in order to condemn their arguments by exposing them as not good enough marxists. iow, there's a question about how to do or think about something and, as such, it's a moral fucking issue. get over it already. that's why aristotle and plato called it "the ethical-political".

so, yes it's really about struggle, but denying that it's about the ethical doesn't get you very far because when you say struggle and political you also say ethical./moral.


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