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[personal profile] naath
Pizza distracted me from posting yesterday.

This post is about abortion and probably isn't very well argued. I have these thoughts in my head because of this very distressing news story from Ireland. This post might be distressing.

Personally I don't think abortion is wrong at all, because I don't believe a foetus is a human until it is born alive. I respect that other people have other beliefs about the value of the life of an unborn foetus all the way through to "the life of the foetus is the most important thing, and the mother's life and health must if necessary be sacrificed to protect it". I do not respect at all a belief that abortion is so absolutely awful that you shouldn't do one even when there is no possibility of the pregnancy resulting in a living baby - if a pregnancy is in the process of failing the foetus can not be expected to survive; if the mother is going to die at 17 weeks pregnant that foetus is going to die with her. Savita died, and she didn't even die to save her baby, her death was unnecessary and unjustified.

The ECHR has previous criticised Ireland's abortion law - not on the grounds that abortion is a human right, the ECHR doesn't think it is - but on the grounds that it is a human right to be able to know whether you are legally eligible to have an abortion or not without having one and being taken to court and found innocent because Irish law is not only incredibly restrictive it is also extremely unclear. Apparently they have not fixed this.,_B_and_C_v_Ireland <-- the case in question.

However even though I think abortion is in no way a Wrong Thing and that every person who wants an abortion should be able to get one; I do think that the world would be better if fewer people were having abortions. Not because abortion is bad but because being in the situation of needing an abortion is pretty sucky. I've not done a study but I reckon the number of people who think "hey, I'll get pregnant and then have an abortion that'd be cool" is pretty tiny. WebMD claims to know why people have abortions:

There are basically four reasons:
*I don't want to have a baby at all
*I was raped and don't want my rapists baby
*I don't think I can support this baby
*Something is wrong with this pregnancy

Now, being pregnant when you don't want to is one of those things that sucks. Having something go wrong when you desperately do want to have a baby must surely suck a very great deal.

So I think there are basically four avenues of "things to do" that would help ensure people don't want to have abortions, which would in turn cause there to be fewer abortions. And I would have thought that people like me who think "I never want to be in the situation of needing an abortion" and people who think "abortions kill innocent babies" could get together behind such measures; even though we disagree about whether having an abortion is bad or not.

These four things go with those four reasons:

Universal access to safe, effective, appropriate contraception. Access includes many factors such as
*existence - there are no useful medium term contraceptives for people with testes, the available medium-long term contraceptives for people with ovaries are not appropriate for all such people, all have potentially fatal side effects (mercifully rare). All existing contraceptives have non-zero failure rates (yes, including abstinance you at the back mumbling about it; sometimes people screw up, also more awfully sometimes people are raped)
*legality - methods need to be approved as safe and useful by various medicine-controlling bodies; methods also need to not be banned because of a moral panic.
*affordable - the method itself needs to be affordable to everyone (which means free or charged on a sliding scale)
*doctors - many methods can only be used under medical supervision; for the good reason that they can have awful side effects (or indeed because they need to be inserted by a suitably skilled person) that need monitoring. This means that "seeing a doctor who can prescribe a variety of methods" needs to be possible; which means it needs to be affordable and physically possible (doctors with the right training need to be within reasonable traveling distance of every person)

Having good contraception helps people to not get pregnant when they don't want to be pregnant; whether that's "ever" or just "now".

Stop rape
I think it's pretty obvious that the best way to stop people getting pregnant as a result of rape is to stop rape from happening. I don't want to separate out "incest" although a lot of people do - if the incest was not rape then I don't see why not wanting to have your brother's baby is any different from not wanting to have anyone else's baby.

Better social support
Some people get abortions because they don't feel they can support a child, even though they would otherwise be happy to have a child. I am sad for these people because I think that if they would be happier having a baby then they should be able to have a baby. Society needs to provide every pregnant person with good peri-natal health care and then support the new parent(s) and baby to live a reasonable life. That means things like giving people benefits that they can actually live on and support their child on if they don't have work or if their work doesn't pay enough; things like ensuring that good quality child care is affordable and available for all parents who would prefer to work (without the expectation that all parents should work, because parenting is an important thing to do). That also means things like not shunning people who have children young, or who are single parents, or other socially "unacceptable" things.

David Cameron seems to think that people on benefits should limit how many children they have. Apparent Cameron wants people to get abortions. Maybe I should write to Nadine Dorries and ask whether she thinks it's more important to save the babies or save money... maybe I couldn't write that without being obnoxious though.

Really the only way to stop things going wrong with pregnancies is to better understand pregnancy, which means more science (to the lab Caruthers!). Also in this category I think is more social and medical support for parents who have disabled children, so that people pregnant with disabled foetuses aren't pushed so much towards abortion.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-27 05:36 pm (UTC)
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
From: [personal profile] liv
I do come into the category of people who believe that abortion is somewhat wrong (though I don't think it should be avoided at all possible costs and I don't particularly think it should be illegal) and I very much do agree with your four suggestions. Properly available contraception and research into better contraception, definitely good. Less rape, definitely good. Research into pre-natal diseases and pregnancy complications, definitely good. I agree with you that practical support for parents, and removing social disapproval of non-standard parents, would also help to reduce abortions as well as being generally a good thing.

Regarding abortion of potentially disabled foetuses, I broadly agree with you but I think I would want to go further than that in terms of generally valuing disabled people properly. Not just support for parents to care for their disabled offspring, though that is important, but also things like applying universal accessibility principles, changing attitudes as well as social reality so that having a less than physically perfect body isn't (in this context quite literally) a fate worse than death. Even in utopia there would still need to be some abortions, including Savita's situation where the foetus was clearly non-viable, or where their expected condition would lead to unbearable suffering even in a disabled-friendly society. But it would be an awful lot less common than it currently is.
Edited (commas) Date: 2012-11-27 05:37 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-27 09:35 pm (UTC)
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
From: [personal profile] liv
Yeah, zero abortions isn't either desirable or likely, I agree. I think there's a big problem with pro-life people not wanting to acknowledge that their position ever has bad consequences. Like those awful Americans who believe in the teeth of all possible evidence that you can't get pregnant from rape, and yeah, the Irish ones who loudly insist that abortion never saves the mother's life. Boo to them; there just isn't any morally easy answer to this issue.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-27 06:04 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lnr
I agree those are all great things to do, and that it's fantastic that there *are* areas where both pro-choice and pro-life people can (theoretically) agree on good ways forward. But I also very strongly feel that:

Northern Irish women should have the same rights to abortion as the rest of the UK.

That under no circumstances should the 24-week limit be reduced.

It would be a good idea if abortion on-demand should actually be available for very early non-surgical abortions, and possibly for early surgical abortions. The legal requirement for two doctors to agree that continuing with the pregnancy would be more dangerous than the abortion is merely a technicality in these cases and can cause distressing delays which actually risk people's health.

I know that these are areas where those who feel abortion is wrong are not going to agree with me on these though. FWIW the more pregnant I am the more strongly I feel these things - and that's despite me having been very well while pregnant. I realise how incredibly lucky I am that I have a wanted baby who is well and who is not making me ill.


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