Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Perpetuating "abortion-guilt"

Since Green Party leader Elizabeth May's recent ill-advised comments about abortion, there's been an ongoing re-evaluation of her party's corner of the political landscape among progressives. But reading blogs and message boards where it's being discussed, it seems that although progressives are unanimously pro-"choice", more than a few, May included, are "anti-abortion". There's an unconscious assumption that abortion itself is "bad", something a woman feels horrendous guilt and shame about. I beg to differ.

I had an abortion, and the only feelings I had about it were anger at myself for getting into such a fucked-up situation, and relief when it was over. I wouldn't characterize the decision as "frivoulous", although I didn't for a second entertain the notion of going through with the pregnancy. I never felt guilty or ashamed about it; it was a procedure that fixed a problem -- no more, no less. As medical procedures go, abortion's a good one, quick and relatively painless. We're fortunate to have such technology available.

Yet I'm very emotional about the choice issue. Because it's so private and so central to womens' self-determination, the interference of outsiders ("outsiders" = anyone but me and my doctor) enrages me. An attack on choice feels like an attack on personal freedom (yes, they hate our freedoms). That they do so in the name of "fetal rights" is laughable -- ascribing to a fetus the same rights as the woman who carries it is like saying a lump of bituminous coal is worth $20,000 because someday it'll be a diamond. Um, no. As long as it resides in my body, I'm the landlord and I make the house rules: unwanted tenants get evicted.

My body and what I do with it are not up for debate. And those like Elizabeth May, who probably mean well but who perpetuate the abortion-guilt myth, should think twice about what they say. Giving women access to shame-and-guilt-ridden abortion isn't much more progressive than not allowing access to abortion at all.