HomeArticleTen Thoughts On Abortion

Ten Thoughts On Abortion

Listen to a reading of this article:

One

It sure is mighty convenient timing for all political and electoral energy in the United States to suddenly get sucked up into a single issue which affects the powerful in no way, shape or form. I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible for everyone’s attention to get diverted away from inflation and the looming likelihood of wage reductions and soaring unemployment or the economic war with Russia that’s making everything worse for everyone while pouring vast fortunes into the proxy war in Ukraine, but by golly, the empire found a way.

Two

Easy access to safe abortions helps prevent women from being trapped in abusive relationships, because childbirth is a great way to keep a woman tied to you and submissive to you. Financial abuse plays a role in virtually all abusive relationships, and if a woman has been made dependent upon an abusive partner to feed her children she’s far more likely to submit to his demands and far less likely to try to leave for fear of being unable to provide for them.

Most women who’ve escaped from a long-term abusive relationship with a man can tell you about the horror of a missed period and how much more terrifying that experience would have been if they hadn’t known that abortion is an option. Being forced to birth an abuser’s child often means being forced into enslavement to him.

The way to prevent this from happening is to ensure women easy access to safe abortions if they want them, and ideally to guarantee mothers financial support so they aren’t dependent on the charitable inclinations of some man who may or may not be a good person.

Three

For me the issue of abortion comes down to bodily sovereignty, not only in that the state has no business forcing unevidenced beliefs about metaphysical personhood upon people’s reproductive systems, but also in that it’s immoral to force anyone to let their body be used by anybody else.

Leaving aside philosophical debates about whether a fetus is a person and all the faith-based mental contortions you need to pull off to make a small cluster of cells seem the same as you or me, bodily sovereignty means abortion should be a right even if we concede that the fetus is a person. No person of any age, whether six weeks in utero or sixty years out utero, has a right to use my body without my permission.

If I needed to be hooked up to your kidneys for my survival, the fact that I would die without the use of your kidneys wouldn’t legitimize the state forcing you to let me use them against your will. In exactly the same way, it’s illegitimate for the state to force a woman to let a fetus use her body to gestate just because it can’t live outside her. Even if we grant both the woman and the fetus full bodily autonomy, a woman refusing to let a fetus use her body is not a violation of the fetus’s bodily autonomy because the woman isn’t at fault for the fetus’s inability to survive outside the womb anymore than you’d be at fault for my inability to survive without the use of your kidneys.

Some may argue “Well, the woman had sex! Therefore it’s her moral responsibility to carry the life to term.” This is wrong, and it says a lot about how entitled people feel to the use of women’s bodies. A woman gets to have sex with whoever she wants, whenever she wants, however she wants. That’s how bodily autonomy works. If she gets pregnant and the fetus gets to live ten weeks as a result of that before she evicts it from her person, then that’s ten more weeks of life than it otherwise would have gotten. You’re welcome, fetus. Now time’s up, out you go.

Four

While we’re on the subject of bodily sovereignty, I’ve seen a lot of people arguing that the whole “My body, my choice” position was invalidated by the way people were forced to take Covid vaccines in order to participate in society.

This is an entirely logical argument, in my opinion. It’s not logically consistent to say that bodily autonomy needs to take a back seat in one area and then claim it’s of utmost importance in another. Proponents of vaccine mandates are responsible for the fact that this argument is being used, and that it is being used effectively.

It’s very disconcerting that the law has come down on the side of subverting bodily autonomy in both of these major debates recently. As humanity gets more and more complicated, we may see the dominance of the notion that our bodies are not our own yield greater and greater consequences going forward.

Five

I was talking on Twitter yesterday about how I’d have to give up my career if I got pregnant and couldn’t have an abortion, and some guy told me something like “Yes but raising a child is so much more noble and lasting than what you are doing here!”

It is true that motherhood is certainly noble, and I myself am much more impressed with my achievements in that field than in this one. But have you ever heard anyone say such a thing to a man? Have you ever even once heard anyone tell a man that he’ll have to give up his successful writing career or any other successful creative career if he becomes a father, because the labor of fatherhood is so demanding and intensive it will require all his focus?

Of course you haven’t, because the burdens of parenthood overwhelmingly fall to the mother. It’s almost impossible to do a good job raising a child while maintaining a steady and high-quality creative output, and those who do often wind up like Sylvia Plath.

Men are never forced to sacrifice successful careers to raise children. Women shouldn’t be either. Silently picking up the slack of a society that expects people to work unpaid doing the most important job in the world is what women have always done, and it’s unjust. Our society was built over thousands of years during which both men and women were trained to believe that women’s lives don’t belong to them. That indoctrination still reverberates through our society today.

Six

Abortion rights affect not just mothers but grandmothers as well. If women are forced to give birth when they’re young and not ready to be mothers, who do you think that responsibility is going to fall to most of the time? Forced birth isn’t just an imposition on pregnant women, it’s an imposition on the grandmothers who will get stuck raising an unwanted child, probably just as they were getting excited about beginning the empty nest phase of their life.

If my daughter was forced to have a baby right now, so much of the work would fall to me that I would have to put my career on hold again. Supporting her education would be my priority. This would be an intrusive and immoral imposition on both of us.

Seven

Whenever I talk about abortion I always get a bunch of guys in my comments calling me fat and saying nobody wants to fuck me, which is always funny because I know with absolute certainty that I have way more sex than any of them.

Eight

There is a very robust argument to be made that all unwanted pregnancies, and therefore all abortions, are the fault of men. A man who chooses to ejaculate his reproductive fluids into a woman’s reproductive system without her explicit verbal invitation to do exactly that is at fault if she gets pregnant, because consent to sex isn’t consent to someone ejaculating inside your vagina.

Everyone is responsible for what they do with their own bodily fluids. We’re supposed to learn this as small children. But if you suggest that men are at fault if they choose to ejaculate inside a woman’s vagina instead of literally anywhere else, it gets an outraged response from a certain type of man. It’s just taken as a given that a woman who consents to vaginal penetration has consented to vaginal insemination, and therefore both parties are equally responsible for any ensuing pregnancy. This is wrong and stupid.

Women don’t get anything out of you cumming inside her, fellas. You’re putting her at tremendous risk just so that you can get a tiny bit more pleasure than you would by pulling out and/or wearing a condom. It’s something you do for yourself, not for her. If this is news to you, please revise your understanding of what sex is and start paying way more attention to the clitoris.

Nine

The overwhelming majority of the idiotic vitriol I get whenever I talk about abortion always comes from men. The ones I’ve interacted with are powered by a kind of invincible ignorance, where they simply talk at women about what pregnancy and motherhood are like with this know-it-all attitude that refuses to even consider the possibility that there may be some aspects of those experiences they don’t fully understand. I’ve had men not just argue with me about my own experience of my own body, but actually lecture me.

And it’s obvious that their ignorance remains invincible all the time, because someone with that much certainty and that little curiosity about what it’s like to be a woman and a mother isn’t the sort of man who the women in their lives will tell things to. They will remain in their impervious know-it-all bubbles for the rest of their lives, partly because they don’t let any new information in and partly because they repulse anyone from trying to give them any. Make sure that that’s not you.

Ten

There’s this fuzzbrained notion in Trumpian circles that holding antediluvian positions on social justice issues like abortion is somehow fighting establishment power structures, because politicians and the media tend to give lip service to those causes. This is based on sloppy thinking.

As humanity becomes more conscious, people increasingly value egalitarianism and personal sovereignty. Powerful spinmeisters simply understand that you need to be aligned with the collective consensus, and ideally even a bit ahead of the curve, if you want to manipulate everyone.

Manipulation depends on sympathy. Propaganda and advertising don’t work if you don’t have the sympathy of your audience. If you’re saying something that makes people unsympathetic, they’ll simply reject whatever you’re saying. So manipulators say whatever they need to say in order to get as much public sympathy as possible. If the public is waking up to the need for social justice, then in order to continue manipulating, you want to not just look like an advocate for social justice, but the best advocate in the room. That way you can direct where public energy and attention goes.

And that’s exactly what they do. They’re not saying “Yes, this way toward Satanism!” like right wingers claim, they’re saying “This way toward continued support for the status quo! Our support for social justice means continuing to vote for status quo politics, consume status quo news, and shop at Amazon!”

Pro-choice activism in America will with 100 percent certainty see its energy herded toward support for the status quo politics of the Democratic Party. This doesn’t mean abortion is bad or that the establishment loves abortion, it means establishment manipulators will work to divert any movement into support for the status quo in order to control it.

__________________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. All works co-authored with my American husband Tim Foley.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Feature image via Lorie Shaull (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Liked it? Take a second to support Caitlin Johnstone on Patreon!

Latest comments

  • I just discovered your blog, so I’m late to this commentary. Sorry.
    One
    What is your point? That it is impossible for an important issue to arise when other important issues are being discussed? Are you implying that there is some conspiracy involving the thousands of people who have been campaigning against Roe for fifty years and the Supreme Court, so that this time was chosen for the issuing of a judgment?
    Two
    Are you implying that most abortions are from women escaping abusive relationships? I seem to recall surveys indicating 90 or 95% were due to inconvenience, but that is not too important. I think your arguments indicate that there should be more support for women trapped in abusive relationships, independent of whether they are pregnant or not. Or do you oppose this because it would undermine one of your ‘arguments’ for abortion. How cruel do you want to be to such women in order to have some more justification for your pro-abortion points?
    Three
    It seems you have missed the entire point of the Supreme Court decision. It is about democracy rather than judicial decision-making. The decision says the elected representatives of each state can make a choice as to the legality of abortion. There is absolutely nothing in the decision about “unevidenced beliefs about metaphysical personhood.” Where did you get that from? If the law in some state says you will go to jail for some reason or go to war for some reason, or do something else involving your body, then you will do so or endure the consequences. Your body is not yours without limits. Some jurisdictions prohibit suicide, so this use of your body is banned. Your claim of absolute total “bodily sovereignty” is just a silly made-up argument. If you have some justification for this assumption, other than your own emotions, provide it. As to your kidneys, if a law was passed saying your kidneys could be used by others in certain emergency situations, the police would simply grab you and bring you to the hospital for their use.
    Four
    So, it is clear from vax mandates that the state does not agree with your invention of total, absolute bodily sovereignty. You need to try an figure out some argument to support it.
    Since this is a democracy, possibly a sham one, you might try getting some legislature to grant it, with limitations of course.
    Five
    What exactly is your claim here? Are you proposing we adopt the same laws as Sweden has, which gives a combination of maternity and paternity leave, divided between two parents in whatever fashion they choose? Since Sweden has this law, do you oppose abortion in Sweden?
    Six
    I guess what you are saying is that you didn’t raise your daughter to find a husband who will support her during her pregnancy and afterwards. Perhaps you are embarrassed by that failure and want to eradicate the democratic decision-making about abortion because of it. It is too bad you can’t go back and raise your daughter(s) better. I hope you raised any sons to support any children they father, but judging by the way you are writing, perhaps you couldn’t communicate your ideas to them sufficiently clearly.
    Seven
    Good for you.
    Eight
    Saying something is ‘wrong and stupid’ doesn’t really establish any responsibilities, nor eliminate them. This is the job of the legislatures that have the authority to do that. Responsibility in many situations has been codified into law, and here is a chance for you to contribute to the reasoning which might affect these legislative decisions. Go for it!
    Nine
    I agree with your point that men should have as much information as possible before taking any actions with significantly serious consequences. Nice.
    Ten
    What exactly does ‘fighting establishment power structures’ mean to you? Is it like limiting the power of PPP to do abortions whenever and wherever they want? Or something completely different?
    The remainder of this point seems to have something to do with your opposition to powerful spinmeisters taking advantage of the uproar about the Supreme Court decision to try and garner support for multiple other issues that they bundle with it. Yes, but what to do about it?

  • Most of this essay reads like the rant of a zealot to whom no counterargument is ever going to matter. Nonetheless, here are my nasty, evil, oppressive, patriarchal thoughts:
    I agree that a bunch of cells cannot be imbued with humanity. The characterization of a foetus, even at the stage where it is clearly a sentient being, as a mere inhuman parasite, however, is eerily fanatical but also exactly the type of argument I have come to expect from self-proclaimed feminists.
    What exactly separates the direct sharing of the physical products of a body from the sharing of the fruits of that body’s labour? The categorical moral distinction of ‘body’ as a special, untouchable facet of a person in this context needs some fleshing out. Otherwise the argument might as well imply denying a child’s as well as a foetus’ ‘right’ to literally any support whatsoever, which is how I interpret it. After all, a child does lack many of the supposed definitive characteristics of ‘humanity’ right? Incidentally, if one thinks even a child has no inherent right to support at all, then I fail to see how one could consistently argue for any ‘forced solidarity’ of any kind (i.e. government). If the argument is that pregnancy is inherently dangerous by default, that seems a disingenuous and exaggerated rationalization as this is simply not the case very often given modern medicine and facilities. I both know women who have had troublesome pregnancies and some who would describe their pregnancy as ‘easy’. It seems that under modern circumstances the dangers of pregnancy are normally to be considered on the order of ‘inconvenience’, though there are, of course, exceptions.

    The idea that women are the only ones expected to sacrifice themselves for others is self-evidently ludicrous and, again, a typically feminist denial of reality. As if men have not always been expected to put themselves in harms way for the protection of women (and children). As much as certain demagogues like to present the economic provision for a family as a privilege, it is better conceived of as an obligation which men are in fact exclusively legally held to in certain “backward,” traditionalist societies. If a man ever abdicates this responsibility, is he lauded for his ‘independence’ and ‘self-empowerment’?

    If you advocate a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy on the basis of the personal costs of having a child, then you must, by the same token, support the right of a man to choose legal paternal surrender within the same time frame – which suggestion, incidentally, has made every self-described feminist I have ever come across lose all control and descend into hysterical screaming about ‘male privilege’, as if one had somehow endorsed honor killings. There is, however, no logical basis for allowing a woman to unilaterally terminate her 18-year obligation to a child, which is overall by far the greatest part of the inherent burden, without granting a man the same privilege. Your “argument” that men are somehow automatically supposed to bear literally all the responsibility for any unwanted pregnancy does not even deserve reply. It is another disgusting example of the type of closet chauvinism which has been ostensibly legitimized in recent years by unhinged radical feminist supremacists masquerading as academics. I would never deny that pulling out should be the default behavior but there are many other circumstances that lead to unwanted pregnancy.

    • Wow. NOW I understand what women are referring to when they dismiss criticism of an opinion as “mansplaining.”

      • Lol. “Mansplaining.” I guess I stand corrected. Great job, valiant knight! Ten ally points for you! Just go ahead and call me presumptuous but I very highly doubt that you have had the slightest epiphany from my comments. Incidentally, I also somewhat doubt that your name even reflects your actual gender (if indeed you believe in such cis-normative, patriarchal power structures).
        Maybe if you put as much effort into thinking honestly as you do internalizing the twisted, chauvinistic rhetoric of ideological whackjobs, we could have a reasonable conversation. But I will keep dreaming, I guess.

  • Thank you for the kid-kidney position on ownership/eviction, or whatever it is called that many of the old grey hairs at LRC argue. And isn’t it synically amazing they did NOT embrace this article of yours, as they do others. Once libertarian leaders they have tainted the concept with religous dogma. I’m thoroughly disappointed they cannot embrace a woman’s/individual’s choice in ALL matters.
    And I was sad to see Dr. Ron Paul’s very poor, illogical thought process on Roe v. Wade. The Freedom movement needs new leadership, and I doubt Dave Smith of the Mises Caucus is a leader.
    Thanks for all your thoughts,
    Mike

  • Another result from the search I did for the 49 day theory is a western scientist who got the idea from the Tibetan Book of the Dead (not the only place it’s mentioned) and developed a theory:
    https://www.mysterious-times.com/2018/05/13/the-soul-enters-the-fetus-at-49-days-by-the-pineal-gland-according-to-a-scientist/
    “The curious thing is that the pineal gland becomes visible in the human fetus at 49 days, which is the number of days in which a soul takes to reincarnate according to the Bardo Thodol ( Tibetan Book of the Dead). These coincidences have led Strassman to affirm that the soul incarnates in the body at the seventh week of pregnancy.”

    To be clear, I am not advocating that the US or any other country adopt a 49 day rule because all Buddhist texts say so, but I would suggest that if the politics were less driven that it might be easy to come up with more detailed reportage of what is going on with fetuses at which stages with which to help people and organizations make decisions, including pregnant women and their partners. I find the Texas heartbeat law makes a lot of sense, others talk about when the fetus can experience pain. The Buddhist theory makes sense for those who respect Buddhist doctrine and so forth. Or you could pass laws allowing parents to terminate their childrens’ lives before the ability to speak on Caitin’s grounds that they cannot survive without parental support. Or whatever.

    But since the issue has been over-politicized, very little information is out there about what happens to gestating babies so that people can make informed decisions. I personally don’t think the law or government should be involved with this apart from ensuring quality control standards and it should be up to the individuals to decide. Government should not force hospitals or doctors to provide such a service nor should Courts allow them to be sued for not doing so.

    That said, I don’t think it beyond the pale for jurisdictions whose populations feel strongly that abortion is murder and murder is wrong can insist that abortion is a crime and proceed accordingly. Those who dislike such rules can leave such jurisdictions. That’s why SCOTUS throwing it back to the States was correct both in constitutional law and in common sense.

  • Much of what you say is logically defensible but essentially heartless. Yes, the little fetus with head, arms, legs, fingers and toes with a heartbeat and feeling pain doesn’t have the ‘right’ to use your kidneys, but many believe neither do you have the ‘right’ to murder it because…. humanity, kindness, compassion etc.

    Most countries now, and I bet most States in the US, will soon have rules forbidding abortion after X weeks. Many put it around 12 weeks which I personally think is already way too late. Some of the old Buddhist texts state that the mind fuses with the body around the end of the 7th week, or 49 days. Image: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/David-Jones-93/publication/281207377/figure/fig2/AS:614211709329430@1523450891929/Human-embryo-49-days-after-conception-Note-the-development-of-the-fluid-filled.png

    From the image you can see that the body is already basically formed but clearly this is not a being ready for prime time.

    So no matter the period agreed upon, I also think it’s good for different jurisdictions to come up with different laws. For some people the notion of abortion at any state is anathema. If enough people in that jurisdiction feel that way, why should they not craft laws in accordance with that. Wouldn’t it be interesting if more regions in the US had more cultural and religious variegation in any case? If you don’t like the tenor of any given community you can find one that you do like rather than trying a one-size-fits-all approach with everything which basically dulls everything down.

  • Eleven – I fart on all previous points. I don’t wanna go back to discuss abortion, women rights after fighting for a very long time to have some freedom to fuck in peace far away from puritans, blindsided debates in an endless loop of ignorance. I am too tired to start over again from the scratch.

    • I think banality would be the lesser of two evils here.

  • I can agree with your 10 points Caitlin but in all the talk about abortion on both sides of this debate one thing is rarely ever considered – what happens to the babies that are aborted – their little bodies are pulled apart and sold by the piece and as they want their piece of flesh in the best condition a pain killer is never used for the fetus whose short experience of life is ended with only huge pain – when are people going to talk about what happens to the fetus – what should happen to the fetus – and the ethics of an industry whose business is selling parts and pieces of unwanted babies!! Should the mother be able to benefit financially or does she pay for an abortion only to have the little one ripped apart and sold – no one talks about what happens AFTER the abortion

  • Don’t let my two cents ruin a fine discussion for you: great comments below.

    From toddlerhood up, my experiences at the hands of evil females for whom hateful cruelty was a way of life were ‘way the hell worse than anything I’ve heard Johnstone admit to, including rape.
    I don’t use my past trauma to genderize every argument, I don’t weaponize it to make my points for me, and I don’t generalize from my experience to expect the worst of every female on the planet. I am a grown man and I own my own crippling, however it was caused. Moreover, I don’t care to blubber about my first-world hardship case to people for whom my problems are trivial, and there are millions of those people online. Keep giving your treasured wounds power and place in your life and your thinking, and they will take you down holes you cannot climb out: just a brother’s counsel.

    Johnstone makes one argument worthy of respect here, imo, and that is that a woman must have the right to make up her own mind about it.
    The rest of her arguments range from farcical to specious and back again.
    – Not one of us is “viable” outside the womb of our society’s support and protection.
    – If your convenience trumps your fetus’s humanity, your life had better not inconvenience anyone with the power and wealth to Khashoggi your logically challenged ass.
    – “It’s his fault for not being the grownup I refuse to be.” Evolution has been selecting for sexual urgency for 500 million years: learn to work with it or prepare to lose.
    – Seems like the Germans argued a great deal back in the 1930s about what makes a human human, but I’m going to go with my tenth grade biology textbook until someone, somewhere, some day, makes an actual, rational, honest argument otherwise. ‘Cause totalitarian futhermuckers is why, you damn fools.

    Honesty is the heart of the problem with the abortion “debate.” The bottom line is, we don’t want to live with the consequences of having sex with whomever, whenever. So we make up a bunch of “reasons” why it’s okay to end the life we began. (How many guys have I personally seen sweat bullets until the girlfriend “finally” gives up and gets the abortion? Dozens.)
    It’s her call, end of debate. But don’t drown the public conscience in a tub of self-serving rationalizations posing as argument. Abortion may be the right thing to do, only she can say, but even being the right thing to do does not make it okay. It’s never okay. Abortion is horrifying: the act of it, the fact of it, and the shadow it casts where a life ought to be. We should face that squarely.

    • Whether one agrees with it in whole or in part, commentary of this caliber makes an invaluable contribution to this blog.

    • Maybe better than my comments. Actually, probably better. More in keeping with the spirit of the thing. I like the evolutionary reality check.

    • And that’s some evocative imagery about the shadow of a life, but “ought to be” is something of a judgment. “Would have been” is a certainty that can’t be wiggled around.

      • Good call. I considered, “might have stood,” but decided it struck a tragic pose. In the buzz of conclusion, it is too easy to miss the distinction between emphasis and manipulation.
        I am grateful for the feedback. My thanks to Newton Finn as well.

        • The distinction between emphasis and manipulation can also be too readily drawn. I think it comes down to 1) have something to say and 2) say it well, but you don’t need a lot of advice on writing.

  • May I add #Eleven?
    Christian Fascists’ [Google Chris Hedges] God is the greatest abortionist — think miscarriages.
    Further, He may be the greatest murderer — or at least accomplice to murder. He could prevent death.
    Sorry, I’m tired of responding with civilly to incivility, with tolerance to intolerance, …

    • * with civility

    • Be not weary in well-doing, as an ancient text intoneth.
      As the Christian bible has it, their god dreamed up death, invented the concept, and put it in practice. To which the only sane, though hardly civil, response would be, “Fuck you very much, O Lord Almighty.”

      • God would be a murderous psychopath of the Guinness Book of Records kind. His only excuse, as Stendhal put it, is that he doesn’t exist.

    • I read that Hedges piece. The poor guy is still way too caught up in the crap he was taught at Harvard Divinity. Eschatology, the end of the republic, good versus evil, yatta yatta. He raves against porn too, claiming it dehumanizes people, as if his religion has ever seriously cared about such a secular humanist cause. The problem is that five Roman Catholics have been cynically placed in positions of authority that their loyalty to that repressive institution disqualifies them from administering properly.

      The heart of the matter is Christianity’s hatred and fear of sexual pleasure, the most powerful, life-affirming antidote there is to the death cult pie-in-the-sky BS it peddles to the unwary and the damaged. When the cult first appeared in the Roman world, educated people thought its curious god-man did not cut a very impressive figure, being so morbidly fixated on what mortals did with their private parts.

      • What an impressive display of anti-Christian bigotry. You seem to be suggesting that what you characterize as the “hatred and fear” of sexual pleasure is something unique to Christianity, when in fact, most religions recognize the fact that all forms of sensuality, whether in the form of sex, or food, or whatever, tend to interfere with spiritual development and therefore advise people to be cautious about such things lest they fall into the trap of living entirely selfish lives devoted to nothing but the pursuit of personal gratification. Take for example the following verse from the Dhammapada (Buddhism): v. 27 – “Do not indulge in sensual pleasures. Only the heedful and meditative attain great happiness.” Or these verses: v. 186-187 – “There is no satisfying sensual desires, even with the rain of gold coins. For sensual pleasures give little satisfaction and much pain. Having understood this, the wise main takes no delight even in heavenly pleasures. The disciple of the Supreme Buddha delights in the destruction of craving.” There are countless other examples, both from Buddhism and from most other world religions, so it’s odd that you would single Christianity out this way. I suppose you single out Christianity because it’s Christianity that has been the religion of the West for the last 1,700 years so. But this point of view isn’t unique to Christianity, or even to religion. And traditional Christian sexual morality–that one should only engage in sexual activity with one’s spouse–is actually a fairly relaxed attitude compared to a lot of other views. I find it somewhat disturbing that the mere suggestion that perhaps the highest virtue in life is not, in fact, the single-minded pursuit of one’s own personal gratification–whether sexual, financial, or otherwise–seems more and more these days to be regarded as some form of hatred or oppression. Selfishness is not a virtue, and recognizing the fact that there are more important things in life than feeling good–such as love, kindness, and serving others–is not a form of hatred. This wisdom is common to all humanity and has been found in countless religious and philosophical systems all across the ages. To regard those who advise the exercise of a certain amount of restraint in the pursuit of personal gratification as being engaged in some type of oppression strikes me as deeply narcissistic.

  • The abortion debate itself exemplifies the Machiavellian character of American politics in general.

    In particular, the anti-abortion issue was historically deployed by White Christian Conservatives to expand their political influence, after they realized that their preferred political Hobby Horse of the time–opposition to the racial desegregation of schools–was increasingly unpopular.

    In other words, instead of weaponizing the racial desegregation issue to advance its political power, the American White Right adopted a different political weapon of choice: anti-abortion.

    This is the history that neither side in the American abortion debate really addresses in an honest manner.

    More importantly, it demonstrates how America’s political pearl clutching about this or that Moral Issue of Our Time (like the War on Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, or Defending Freedom and Democracy against Authoritarianism) are nothing more than propaganda pretexts in general.

    In short, American “democracy” is political bad faith politics in the extreme.

    There’s a straight line from US racial segregation to the anti-abortion movement
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/08/abortion-us-religious-right-racial-segregation

    • That this needs stating is an indictment of US politics, media & religion: to the highest bidder (lobbyist, donor) go the spoils (power to control strangers’ lives because you’re a twisted cunt & holding your imaginary friend responsible because you’re a hypocritical cunt).

      But thank you for stating it!

      • My comment was in response to excellent points made by USA-MA BIN LADEN.

  • Brava, Caitlin. Among your commentary points here are a number of lessons learnt from my mother – still here, aged 92. Thank-you!

  • Excellent Article.
    Especially interesting concept that SEX does not have to mean a man’s penis inside a woman’s vagina.
    This is what we should teach our teenage girls, have all the sex YOU want, just with no penis inside you.

    • Are dildos OK?

    • Of course all the other ways of having sex are the ones traditionally demonized to the max by the religious maniacs.

  • The basic facts about abortion.

    1) Even ‘pro abortion’ people don’t support abortions. Nobody says abortions are a good thing, even if they say they support ‘allowing’ them.

    2) Whether a person is ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ abortion is not the business of bureaucrats, any more than whether a person is pro or anti anything else. If a person does not want to support abortions they should not, but they can’t really force their opinions on others.

    3) If the issue were ‘mandatory abortions’ in a police state, e.g. China’s past one child policy, then abortion would be the issue being discussed. But the real argument in roe v wade is whether a person has the right to make their own decisions in personal matters.

    For most people, abortion is a disgusting thing. But if somebody doesn’t feel that way they are welcome to practice their beliefs on themself. Like that legendary girl who had eight abortions because she liked the feeling of being pregnant but didn’t think she was ready for a child.

  • Excellent.

  • You can make the argument for abortion without dehumanizing the fetus.

    • Do you mean “You can’t”?

      Or are you trying to get somebody to weaken their argument so your team does better?

  • This article definitely hits key points about the decisions that women have concerning their right to decide when to become pregnant. When I was younger, I didn’t see children as the main part of my life goal, as I had a career plan, but I met a partner with whom, I had children, because despite my birth control methods (diaphragm). Part of the argument concerning unwanted pregnancies is the underlying lack of understanding of the male cause of the pregnancy is just as important. My son is of the Millennial generation. agrees with some form of voluntary vasectomy or any blockage that keeps egg cells and sperm cells from commingling so that sexual acts are not lessened in pleasure but don’t result in pregnancies. Pregnancy would only occur with planning. Funny it sounds almost like something already described in SYFY fiction but perhaps that is where we should be heading if we want to remain free-thinking individuals.

  • Thank You for some really great insight on your world views over the last few months, but you really lost me on your abortion stance. I’m for reason here, but you sound so resentful and your piece seems more like a rant. Sounds like a lot of man hating, you must have been hurt very badly at some point. Most men would not even want to live in a world without women and children, and absolutely adore them. Most men live for the approval and love of their wife or partner, and are depressed and lost with out that special affection. You make men sound like deviant predators and all these poor unsuspecting woman are just prey, and if it wasn’t for an available abortion to fix things, they would have to live in this hellish servitude. You make woman look so weak and feeble. I wish you could meet my girls, Jim..

    • there’s a chance your girls meet someone who isn’t most men.

  • one (and ten). remember how the dems almost put up no resistance to the new conservative judges.

    • Protection racket 101: keep the threat going.

  • Be like Putin. Get vaccinated.

  • Abolition of a woman’s right to abortion, when and if she wants it, amounts to compulsory maternity: a form of rape by the State.
    – Edward Abbey

    If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.
    – Rose F. Kennedy

    • Actually the lower quote was by an anonymous NYC cab driver, see below.
      And Mr. Abbey doesn’t get an opinion on abortion. Besides which, it just sounds dumb.

    • “Abolition of a woman’s right to abortion, when and if she wants it, amounts to compulsory maternity: a form of rape by the State.”
      “– Edward Abbey”
      ~
      That is dumb, as the other commenter says.
      ~
      Should the starving people of Ethiopia say “Send us steaks and air conditioners and Perrier, or you are condemning us to starve, a form of genocide”?
      Most ‘maternity’ is not a calculated event. Scientists know what causes it and they will tell you if you google it. If you don’t know then you find out. If somebody knows about abortion but they don’t know how babies are made then they can raise their kids to be smarter.

  • Good and clear points, as always Caitlin. I feel your point 3, bodily integrity and the potential humanity of the fetus, is the heart of the matter and I disagree with your interpretation of it.

    That the fetus transitions to “human” with a right to life at some point in the pregnancy is the whole point here. Most people would agree that a “viable” fetus (one that could survive outside the womb) is human and should not be killed no matter the convenience of the woman. But even non-viable human fetuses that have independent heart and brain function are qualitatively indistinguishable from other humans like us.

    Your point is that even if the fetus is human it is not entitled to forced bodily support from the mother (with the kidney example) does not account for relative need: in this case, we are talking about one human depending entirely on another for its very life, while the other human is only significantly impacted (but not generally at risk of life) from accommodating the other. If the woman’s life would be at threat from a continuing pregnancy, then the relative risks would be equal and no one could impose continued pregnancy in such a case despite the loss of the fetus. However, in most cases, we are comparing a significant but temporary and not intrinsically risky situation to a complete loss of life … a very significant moral question that should not be simplified.

    As for the argument about sex, I’m afraid choices do matter. A man can have unprotected sex once with a woman and if this leads to pregnancy and if the woman chooses to carry to term and give birth (appropriately entirely her choice) the legal system will force the man to support the resulting child financially. Now, he didn’t want a baby, only wanted to have sex; but he unwisely allowed the conditions to occur that could lead to creation of human life and must deal with the consequences.

    • you can survive with one kidney. forced organ and blood donations?

      • The followup questions include:

        Is this the only possible way to save a life?

        Am I the only person capable of this or are others as well?

        Did I have any part in developing the kidney failure of the dying person?

        What if my one kidney fails later?

        etc. … in the baby/fetus case, there is no one else, the mother is the only person who can keep the baby/fetus alive, and the mother (usually) had some part in the conditions that led to pregnancy.

        Btw, I am not decided about the issue … just wanted to point out to the author that the humanity of the fetus is the crux of this and it’s not an easy issue at all.

        • imo the humanity of the woman overrides any humanity a fetus might have.

    • “we are talking about one human depending entirely on another for its very life, while the other human is only significantly impacted (but not generally at risk of life) ”

      Which is enforced slavery isn’t it. A deep moral wrong which we have spent centuries eliminating.

      There is no right to life, only an opportunity at life. If the woman withdraws their consent, then that is like withdrawing the use of their kidneys in the famous dialysis argument.

      The person without the kidneys will die – because they don’t have kidneys and we don’t have sufficiently advanced machinery to keep them alive.

      Rather than calling it abortion we should call it early birth. A woman has the right of withdrawal and can call on medical science to trigger an early birth – because she no longer wishes to be part of the arrangement.

      The child is then born and whether they live or die depends upon the level of medical science available to us. God’s will in other words. If God wants the child to live they can grant us insight to create better medical technology.

      There is nothing temporary about bringing a child into the world. It is a very permanent arrangement that should be done with due consideration.

  • Hedges has a great article on the rise of Christian fascism at Bob Scheer’s site. He sees the abortion ruling as a small piece of a larger strategy, while we argue about vaccine mandates. Margaret Atwood may have been prescient with her 1985 novel.

  • 1. The need for abortion should not exist. In an age of gene editing and bioprinting it’s absurd that something as failure prone as conception can’t be easily inhibited by easily reversible technical means. The cost of one new aircraft carrier could probably end the debate.

    2. “Leaving aside philosophical debates about whether a fetus is a person” reminds me of the engineering joke that when physicists design a racetrack they assume a spherical horse. You then go on to assert that even if a fetus is a person it has no right to be in somebody’s womb. Bullshit. Draw me a bright line between abortion and infanticide or keep your absolutism to yourself.

    3. This curiously narrow notion of “bodily sovereignty” jumps the gap from single issue politics to single issue concept. I’ve always been an active and vocal forlorn fan of “bodily sovereignty”, as it’s lately called, but can’t help but have noticed that for abortion advocates that seems to be the only thing they think it applies to, and since I can’t get pregnant I guess I don’t get any. Hey Luceeey- I don’t get any, I don’t want to hear you complain about not getting yours.

    4. The Supreme Court ruling doesn’t apply to women with money. Nowhere near half the states will outlaw abortion, and there’s zero chance all 50 will. If there’s one left it’ll be their primary industry. I find most people aren’t too concerned with reality if they can complain on principle, but the government has actually never been able to stop much of anything, and it definitely won’t stop abortion. In fact, by disavowing federal responsibility for abortion the Supreme Court has substantially guaranteed access to it. Reality is funny that way.

    5. The idea that you don’t get an opinion on abortion unless you can have one is nonsensical on its face. I’ve never heard anyone claim that women don’t get an opinion on sperm because they don’t produce any. And I personally am against ovarian cancer, even though I can’t get it. Constraining opinion to matters of personal consequence is a specious, emotion driven notion. In fact, one could well argue that a lack of personal exposure renders someone more objective.

    6. Nuclear war is murder.

    • very well argued

  • Spot on, abortion rights will not affect the wealthy. It may not affect many because most people will be able to travel to an abortion State. However, it will affect the non-voting poor. It could backfire on the political class if it activates women in general. A large political activation could cause both parties to pass a national abortion rights law, or the GOP cannot, then it would force the Dems into the hot seat, which could lead to a viable third party movement. I would love to see women gain political power. I’d bet on a women’s party against the dick wagging warmongers.

    • May I suggest a few names to lead it? Hillary Clinton, Michelle Flournoy, Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland, Gina Haspel, Ursula von der Leyen, Liz Truss… And honorary patronage of the late Margaret Thatcher of Falkland memory, with special mention of Joan of Arc and Catherine II of Russia under the divine aegis of Aphrodite who provoked the Trojan War by giving Trojan prince Paris the most beautiful woman in the world who didn’t belong to her but was already married to King Menelaus of Sparta, which Aphrodite forgot to mention. Let’s be fair: how could she know that the bastard would want to get his wife and mother of their little girl back?

      • Forgot the chick with the apple.

  • “It’s not logically consistent to say that bodily autonomy needs to take a back seat in one area and then claim it’s of utmost importance in another”.

    The pro-choice rabid vaxxers will argue that “Ah yes! But it’s different because you are endangering other people’s lives if you’re not vaccinated, which is not the case if you’re aborted!”

    Of course, anybody with two functioning neurons can see the flaw in that argument (more of that later) but the rabid vaxxers have the excuse of generally being old and scared shitless by Big Pharma’s propaganda: “Unvaxxed kids will murder their grandmas!” – even though this has been debunked even by the top German mainstream newspaper:

    https://www.newswars.com/editor-in-chief-of-germanys-top-newspaper-apologizes-for-fear-driven-covid-coverage/

    Grandmas (and grandpas) freak out and will insist on jabbing everybody no matter the risks in order to keep their self-absorbed little persons out of the grave a little longer like the Countess Du Barry famously begging, as her head was being fitted under the guillotine blade: “Just another minute, Mister executioner!” – or so they think.

    Of course the scam here, that these guys refuse to see because that fear has turned neurotic in their brains, is that vaccines were never meant to protect other people from them but them from other people. Like if it rains, an umbrella protects you from the rain, it’s not meant to protect the rain from you. Therefore, if a kid is not vaccinated, what does Grandma do if she wants to get protected? She herself gets vaccinated and Bob’s your uncle. And she leaves the rest of the creation fucking alone because that draws the line between public health concerns and Orwellian control.

    The trouble with the experimental Covid vaccine is that it was never “safe” (see VAERS) nor “effective” since it doesn’t stop transmission, hospitalization or death. So much so that over half (up to 80% in some areas) of the Covid deaths are now among the vaccinated.

    Ah yes but it’s because most people have been vaccinated! So it is logical that those who get it most turn out to be vaccinated, will yell the rabid vaxxers. (No, you’re not in a Monty Python skit!) We still have to point out to these freaks (at great personal risks :o) that most people got vaccinated (often under duress) in order NOT TO CATCH the sucker and that the proportion of the vaccinated dying from it should therefore be a fraction of a percent – nothing being absolutely perfect – instead of 50% to 80%.

    The reality, which the rabid vaxxers refuse to see, is that the vaccine not only doesn’t protect Grandma – from a relatively mild threat anyway considering the 99.7% survival rate before the vaccine – but is the heist of the century on taxpayers’ finances and/or some sort of biological time bomb. The eugenicist ideology of those pushing it with unhinged insistence on having EVERYBODY vaxxed – refusing exemption to the naturally immune and even putting toddlers in a detrimental risk-benefit position – doesn’t help. Considering that government gaslighting is standard operating procedure, the whole shebang is fucking scary if you ask me!

  • Deciding to have an abortion is a serious decision and it should not be taken lightly. I can’t imagine any normal woman feeling good about getting one no matter how she became pregnant. It is killing something, whether you regard it as a person yet or not. I don’t say that there should never be abortions, but having one is always tragic. It seems to me that a better approach would be to find ways for women to never need one, whether the remedy be technological or social.

  • I agree with all points except No.3 re vaccine mandates. A woman who one does not know and has no relationship with whatsoever, who has an abortion,. has zero effect on anyone else (except in their imaginations). I cannot even understand why there should be any standing to bring a lawsuit or complain if there is no harm to the anti-choicer.. But someone who did not get a vaccine (the science thought and still thinks in some regards) could be a carrier of giving others a virus that could even be deadly. It is not an equivalent argument at all. And if that argument was considered at all plausible, you would have thought those people would understand “choice” and fight FOR it in ALL areas. Otherwise it is nothing but vindictive.

    • Duh, it’s been widely acknowledged by even the most rabid purveyors of the vaxx that it does NOT prevent transmission. How can anyone still be using that tired, discredited argument? By anyone, I mean YOU.

    • Viruses are invisible, so these Trumpers don’t believe they are harmful.

      • Forgot to take your meds again…

        • Said the senile Trumper.

  • Any man having such a disproportionate emotional attachment to abortion (or: anything else being a woman’s personal MEDICAL issue, for that matter) is just resorting to all the bullshale control tactics he thinks EVERY political/religious/economic machination he invented out-of-his-ass for millennia ENTITLES HIM TO.

    America (and its lackey proxies around the globe) are the ringleaders of culture-less, human exploitation and degradation at all costs (precisely to serve the systems their men equate to some form of self-righteous “godliness”). The worst “sin” of all, *should* be, however: the way the majority of these men in charge are truly such sociopathic fiends, they don’t even realize THEY ARE THE PROBLEM causing the breakdown of this world.

  • Wading through the Roe’s of Narrow-minded Hypocrisy.
    Fetus: an unborn offspring of a mammal, in particular an unborn human baby more than eight weeks after conception… Synonyms: embryo, fertilized egg (zygote), unborn baby, unborn child.
    So, let’s just arbitrarily change the dictionaries of our advanced medical and natural sciences, and award the pre-natal fetus the same status as the only potentially long-term viability of post-natal persons, in our demented world; because now a minority of fascist Christian religious fundamentalists are the supreme law of the land, and say to do so.
    Corporations were, too long ago already, arbitrarily assigned, through the same supreme law, the rights of persons; yet none has been prosecuted, let alone criminalized for intentionally aborting the actual peoples’ political system by way of patently illegal insertions of unlimited amounts of the toxin of money into the womb of the country’s body politic, against its successful democratic thriving, and overall community cohesion and viability.
    To date, not one corporate monstrosity has yet even been considered for prosecution for the intentional infliction of bodily harm – threatening the very life of all of our’ mother’s democratic body political survival.

  • You honestly gave your opinion on a complex issue. I doubt many will agree with every point since it is such an explosive topic. One thing is for sure, to eventually require everyone to have a chip inside them, body sovereignty must be abolished. Therefore abortion is doomed in the long run. Not your body. Not your choice.

  • I haven’t yet read it, but the Dobbs opinion of the Chief Justice, apparently in support of the particular abortion regulation but not in support of fully overturning Roe, seems to have emphasized the moral complexity and social division generated by the abortion issue. Among the most passionate opponents of abortion, for example, are devout Catholic women, often both wives and mothers. I suggest that anyone who is not at least somewhat troubled by this issue has perhaps not thought and felt enough about it. Yet I also suggest that Scott Ritter has a telling point when he says, despite his own opposition to abortion, thst it is ultimately the woman’s decision to make. Who was it who said that if men could get pregnant, the right to an abortion would be prominent in the Bill of Rights, if not set forth in the body of the Constitution?

    • “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” -anonymous

      “If men could get pregnant, they’d be women.” -me

  • Agree. But this is still primarily an issue about federal vs state control. And the fears expressed will be fought out at a state level. There are several more chapters to come. It seems an exaggeration to make this black and white.

  • Bravo!! Especially #8. It has occurred to me that a large portion of society thinks that men “have sex” and women “get pregnant” and that the 2 are somehow not related. Argh

  • I am a male who has long equated abortion with eviction.

    Thank you, Caitlin, for taking that position in public.

    Not that it really matters, but the concept of a fetus as being a person is nonsense.

    The presence of a heartbeat in no way correlates with sentience. Brain-dead people are dead even if they have a heartbeat, because they have no sentience. Meat without sentience is only dead meat.

    I avoided participation in any pregnancy until I was nearly 40 years old because I hadn’t found any hope of personal security in society until shortly before that time.

    I feared becoming a father and being compelled, both socially and personally, against my will for the care of the life of another. I had things to accomplish first, and the thought of my and my child’s fate being totally in control of a pregnant woman and state enforcement, chilled my enthusiasm for parenthood.

  • I am in favor that women should make up their own minds on about having an abortion and have the ability to have a safe abortion procedure if she feels she needs it. That being said I have found that quite a few women have problems with having had an abortion after the fact,– so I would never counsel a woman that she should have one.
    Years ago I knew one young woman that had close to twenty abortions and I think that she probably wouldn’t have been a good mother. I don’t consider it a good form of birth control.
    I think that you are correct that the timing of this issue and some others —are being used just to distract people from other issues that are happening or about to happen.

    • Then it’s a good thing for her that she had no need of your approval.

  • Thank you for these well thought out ideas, Caitlin! Americans generally don’t know that the Victorians had to legalize abortions in New York. Why? They lived what Christian fascists would view as the ideal life–women with almost no rights, ensconced at home, and taught that sex is a duty, not enjoyment. Men got so little good sex from their wives they turned to prostitutes, who were created by their impossible economic situations, not because they were “tramps”. Abortion was illegal at the time. Birth control was poor or non existent. So what did all those prostitutes do with those pregnancies? Police were pulling 100+ dead newborns a day out of the Hudson. The problem became so obvious and horrifying that New York legalized abortion and the newborn body count went way down. This kind of thing will happen again. People who want ALL abortion outlawed are actually asking for a rise in infant murder. They have no idea how desperate a woman can be to get rid of a pregnancy, nor do they have any idea why this is. She’ll risk her life to end pregnancy for the reasons you mention.

    The Victorian response to infanticide, like modern response to abortion, never attempted to change anything for women in order to prevent their need for abortion or infanticide. We’ve had 10,000 years of this same old story. Can it change? Yes. But not without a concerted effort and a sea change in human consciousness. As Lakota elder Floyd Clown told me, “Women are sacred!” This was the view of very ancient humans, across the board, no exceptions. We became a highly successful species because of this. Our species is now in decline and risking extinction because masculine patriarchal narcissism is coming to its logical conclusion: the end of humanity as we know it. We abandoned the Divine Feminine so long ago nobody even knows how anything could possibly be different from “the way things are” and have no idea what women are really all about. What are we missing by neglecting the positive, life-affirming ways of the Divine Feminine? No one knows!! Ideally the Divine Feminine and Masculine archetypes should be balanced, working in cooperation, not constantly at war. There are surviving ancient tribes in which this is the case. If they can do it, why can’t we learn how to do it, too?

    This patriarchy thing isn’t working. Time to try something new.

    • Thank you for the illuminating, edifying observations. At various times in even the patriarchal Christian tradition, the divine feminine was recognized via a “female” Holy Spirit known as Sophia.

  • What is your feeling about identifying the father in all pregnancies, whether aborted or not, married or not, as common practice?

    • The basic issue is whether people should be nosing into other peoples’ business.
      You are trying to calculate a solution but you have Orwellian tendencies you need to control.

  • I have a thought on abortion-I’m glad I would never have to make the choice.

    The issue of pushback against overreach is going to get a lot of discussion in the coming years, whether it’s abortion, gun rights, military involvement abroad, bodily autonomy, school curriculum and funding, tax dollar allocation…my nickel on this is that expectation and experience are not aligned, and those most invested haven’t developed the skills that government and most authorities in theWest dissuade if not discount and even dismiss.

    • The issue of “pushback against overreach” has been in rapid decline for thousands of years for the reason given in the last part of your long sentence.
      Why should anybody resist bad things when they can sign a petition or vote?

  • Disagree about the abortion vs. vaccine mandate. Abortion comes down to bodily autonomy as you say. Vaccination is a matter of public health, a public good. Half of the population are never ever going to get pregnant. The other half are not going to get pregnant because a pregnant woman coughs on them; pregnancy isn’t infectious. Vulnerable people may get sick and die from being infected by careless, uncaring, vicious or stupid people who may care desperately about their own bodily autonomy but not about anybody else’s.

    • Health care is never one size fits all, even during a pandemic. And if you accuse health care workers and others of being careless, uncaring, vicious, or stupid for not wanting to take a barely-tested, non-FDA approved vaccine…well, you might want to re-think that. It’s not like this vaccine is a wonder drug that actually prevented all coronavirus infection and stopped the pandemic in its tracks!

      • Medical workers who deny medical science are doing more harm than good.

  • I’m an enthusiastic proponent of public protest but I’m wondering how many of these protesters support choice in the matter of taking vaccines. I wonder if they even understand their hypocrisy is they don’t.

    • If everyone thought logically, we would have far fewer problems in the world today.

Post a Reply to NancyRant Cancel Reply