[Today’s guest post is by Sean Cahill, a recent graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law. She says: “Because it changes the way my voice is heard when it comes to life issues, I feel compelled to state that I’m a woman, despite what my name suggests.”]
When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we can safely assume that there is something wrong in society – so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged.
~Mattie Brinkerhoff, writing in Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s feminist newspaper The Revolution, 1869
Whether you want abortion to be illegal or you champion the “right” to have an abortion up until a woman’s due date, we should be able to agree: when a woman has an abortion because she feels that it’s the only way to make it in this world, we as a society have failed her.
The Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion, provides disturbing data on the reasons women seek abortion. They fall into two major categories: a lack of financial support, and a lack of emotional support. As Serrin Foster, the president of Feminists for Life, explains in the well-known speech The Feminist Case Against Abortion, most women who get abortions do so because they feel that they cannot complete their educations, would lose their jobs, would not be able to provide for their born children, or are afraid of stigma related to sex or pregnancy. These in fact are the very social problems that abortion lawyer Sarah Weddington emphasized during oral arguments for Roe v. Wade.
A lack of emotional or financial support is largely why women sought abortion in the 1800s, when prenatal development was poorly understood and abortion had not yet become illegal. If abortions are sought for the same or similar reasons as well over a hundred years later, where is our progress?
Pregnancy is not a disease and does not suddenly change a woman’s capacity to contribute to this world. And yet “feminists” tell me over and over: it would be impossible for her to complete college, pursue her career goals, or not end up on the street. If that’s true, we have failed.
Why should we accept this? If these are in fact the justifications for abortion, then abortion is not a solution but a symptom, a symptom of a broken society that does not respect women for who they are.
In the years leading up to Roe v. Wade, Sarah Weddington, the National Organization of Women, and other lobbyists made a list evidencing women’s subordination, showing that women were being treated as second-class citizens. They shouted that pregnant and parenting women were forced to leave school, leave jobs, remain trapped in abusive relationships, raise children on their own because of irresponsible men, and were being alienated by friends and families because of the stigma related to sex and pregnancy outside of marriage. Then came the kicker: things were so bad for women that they were going to unlicensed doctors in unsanitary conditions, and having their unborn children dismembered and poisoned. Society responded, with the Supreme Court as its mouthpiece: You’re right, women do have it bad… you can start doing that last thing in a doctor’s office.
But no, we are not going to demand that children born outside of marriage and their mothers are de-stigmatized. No, we are not going to ensure women are able to earn a living wage. No, we are not going to ensure proper maternity benefits. No, we are not going to demand accommodations for parenting students and employees at colleges and workplaces. No, we are not going to demand men act responsibly. We are not going to do anything. You are going to have abortions. Society will not accommodate your fertility; your fertility must accommodate society. You get pregnant, you deal with it.
Is this what liberal society celebrates every 22nd of January?
Where would we be today if the social activists of the 1960s and 1970s had demanded better than abortion? What if, forty-two years ago, people had looked at the list of reasons abortion was “necessary” and began systematically addressing those problems? What if we didn’t have legal abortion acting as a band-aid masking the real problems? What if women told boldly colleges, employers, men, and society at large: “We get pregnant. Accept it.”
This does not mean merely accepting the fact that pregnancy happens, but creating a culture of life that embraces motherhood instead of scorning it. Whether pro-choice or pro-life, we all have to agree that abortion should not be necessary for a woman to make it in this world. I say we demand better than abortion. We must demand society accept women as we are. Men are not the benchmark. Men can have sex without getting pregnant. Women get pregnant. Accept it.