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I have a feeling most anti-abortion people are totally okay with that.
God, I just love this quote. I want to put it on a t-shirt and walk around with a megaphone just yelling it into the megaphone while people pass by.
If you give a zygote personhood, the person carrying it will lose rights. The person that has feelings and friends and a life and actual thoughts. The person that can feel pain and experience trauma will lose their rights.
People shouldn’t be relegated to become citizens with partial rights simply because they are pregnant.
I’ve been noticing a lot of anti-choice activity on Tumblr lately, and (thankfully) I’ve noticed an even bigger pro-choice backlash to the antis’ posts. And I cannot appreciate all of you more than I already do, I promise. You all are amazing people, and I encourage you to continue taking down anti-choice bullshit when you see it.
But that being said, there are a lot of bad arguments being used by well-intentioned pro-choicers, and those arguments open our entire movement up to attacks by antis. Please take this post as constructive advice, and use the information here to better your fight for reproductive justice. You’re already badasses, so think about the damage you can do to the anti-choice movement with some rock-solid facts.
1) Zygotes, Embryos, and Fetuses are alive.
They are. They’re made of cells, and cells are the fundamental unit of life. And (the dedicated) anti-choicers are carefully trained to make you sound ignorant if you try to claim otherwise.
2) Zygotes, Embryos, and Fetuses are human.
This one is also true. A zygote is formed from two human cells and later splits into more human cells. At no point is that thing in a pregnant person’s uterus a protist, tree, or cat. That being said, “human” only refers to the species of the organism, and not its personhood.
3) “Personhood” means “having the rights and responsibilities of a person.”
When we talk about whether a zygote/embryo/fetus is a person, this is what we’re talking about. Does a fetus have the right to be counted in the census? Does it have the responsibility to produce a passport when travelling overseas? While a fetus is still a fetus, the answer to these questions is a resounding NO.
4) A zygote is a new organism at fertilization.
One of the most common arguments that the anti-choice movement pulls out is “Life begins at conception/ a zygote has its own DNA.” And one of the absolute worst responses that I have seen come from the pro-choice movement is “yeah, but half that DNA is the pregnant person’s.” This is absolutely irrelevant. A four-year-old’s genome is also a 50:50 mix of each parent and any anti-choicer worth their salt is going to recognize that.
A better response to “life begins at conception” is that life began about four billion years ago, and it hasn’t ended since! That zygote came from two gametes that were entirely alive, and those came from precursor cells in each parent that were also alive. And if you trace those cell lines back far enough, each parent came from a live zygote which came from live gametes… etc. Life began with the first cells on Earth and has persisted ever since. Fertilization is not magical or special.
And of course, if they argue about genomic DNA content, you can refer back to “what is a person?”
5) Persons do not have the right to use other persons’ bodies without consent
This is really the crux of the pro-choice stance, and it holds even when we play the “personhood game” and let anti-choicers believe that zygotes are people with all of the rights and responsibilities of born persons.
We do not force individuals to donate fluids, tissues, or organs to sustain the lives of others, even when the potential recipients will die without a donation. We do not force individuals to serve as living dialysis machines or respirators for anyone after birth, so why are fetuses so special?
At this point, you may get a feeble “but abortion destroys the fetus, it doesn’t just end the connection between the host and the recipient!” And that’s true. This is because our current medical technology cannot sustain the life of an infant born before 24-ish weeks gestation (which means that more than 99% of aborted fetuses are not viable), so our current abortion techniques are not really designed to produce a whole embryo or fetus.
But you can ask your anti-choicer, “Would it bother you less if we did remove a whole embryo and let it die from lack of sustenance?” Because according to the argument they just gave you, it should.
6) Consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy
If you haven’t managed to shut down your anti-choicer by now, they will probably fall back on that tried-and-true mantra, “Don’t spread your legs if you don’t want a baby!” (sourced to prove that this is not a strawman argument). I have had many an anti argue that the difference between saying “No, you may not have my body” to your sister with kidney failure and saying “No, you may not have my body” to an embryo is that you did not put your sister in a dependent position by being a slutty, slutty, slut.
This is obviously a bad argument because it lends itself to some rather silly corrolaries like “if you don’t want to drown, don’t live in a coastal region.” Bring the argument back to the issue at hand: does “being a slut” mean you give up your right to bodily autonomy? And how, exactly, does that happen? Should parents be required to donate organs to their born children?
7) Try not to fall back on “What about rape?”
Anti-choicers in general are pretty insensitive people- they want to tell other people what to do with their bodies. But anti-choicers that advocate forcing survivors of sexual assault to continue a resulting pregnancy are the scum of the earth. It is easy to jump on an anti waving the “don’t spread your legs!!!” flag with “what about rape?”
But when the argument shifts to rape, it ignores all of the pregnant people who had consensual sex and have an equal right to not be pregnant, and it takes the discussion away from the consent and focuses it squarely on the sex. And that is exactly what that anti-choicer wants.
8) Keep your cool and remember that Guttmacher.org exists for a reason
As a pro-choice activist, you will encounter some really inane shit from anti-choicers. It may range from “abortion causes breast cancer and/or PTSD!” (it doesn’t) to “birth control pills cause abortion!” (they don’t) to “back-alley abortion is a myth!” (it’s not). Just remember that there is a peer-reviewed, scientifically sound source to counter every claim and use Google to whip it out. You don’t need to resort to threatening or yelling at the anti, because they’re guaranteed to get really angry eventually. And when that happens, you can just laugh.
*Edited because I know the difference between an “m” and a “b,” I promise.
Let’s get that backlash rollin’!
A lot of people when they hear the terms “prochoice”, “reproductive rights” or even “reproductive justice” only think of abortion, but this view is myopic in my opinion. “Reproducing” encompasses many things which includes the right to choose to have children (or give birth and choose adoption), to choose to not have children right now, and to choose to never have children. Reproductive justice frameworks are holistic and look at reproductive rights with the whole person in mind. This means people also have the right to quality and comprehensive sex education, contraception, relevant medical care, the right to be sterilized and the right to not be forcibly sterilized, and a whole host of birthing choices as well (home/natural births, VBACs, the right to refuse c-sections, etc).
Not only that but reproductive rights activists are also concerned with advocating for the personhood/bodily integrity/and autonomy of pregnant people, advocating for reproductive health care as a human right, eradicating obstetric fistula and illegal/unsafe abortion in the developing world, lowering the incidence of teen pregnancy and STIs, lowering the mortality and morbidity rates of pregnant people, improving access to quality healthcare especially for people in poverty. The list goes on and on. Further, we must remember that race, class, disability status, citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, etc all intersect and all have an effect on how we can or cannot utilize our reproductive rights, and therefore all of those issues must be addressed for reproductive justice to be successful in upholding the rights of all people not just those who are white, wealthy, able-bodied, straight, cis, male citizens.
So what does this have to do with trans* people?
Well, perhaps not everyone within the movement believes “prochoice” should be a holistic philosophy, but I for one, do. We concentrate on abortion rights because that’s the issue so often under attack, but to be actually “prochoice” is much more expansive than that. It’s about bodily integrity and the importance of keeping personal bodily decisions just that, personal. It’s about birthing choices as much as it is abortion. It’s about how the reproductive rights of different segments of society have been effected differently and what that means to all of us as a whole. Intersectionality matters because poc, poor people, disabled people, trans* people, people of various sexual orientations have been targeted differently and yet it’s all part of a larger system that denies those seen as the “other” the freedom to make basic choices in regards to how their bodies are viewed and how they are utilized. Therefore it’s important to remember that the sexist and cissexist system that seeks to control the sexuality, bodies, and reproduction of those it perceives to be women is the same system that actively targets the identities, bodies, reproduction, and sexualities of trans* people. Reproductive rights aren’t about abortion, they’re about the profound and fundamental right to bodily integrity.
So what is trans* repro justice?
It’s the radical notion that:
- Our bodies belong to us and our right to bodily integrity doesn’t dissipate when society becomes aware of our trans*ness.
- Our bodies and identities are valid, no matter how “uncommon” they may be.
- Language matters and so does inclusivity. When your rhetoric excludes us so do your actions, and that sometimes literally kills us.
- We don’t need to be pathologized or “explained” within a cissexist paradigm.
- You don’t need to understand us to respect us.
- Sex and gender are not neat binaries.
- We deserve to have our needs met and our boundaries respected just as much as anyone else.
- Medical care should be easily accessible to every one that needs and wants it.
- Parenthood and reproduction are basic human rights and no person should be sterilized without their consent or knowledge. In the other direction, all people that seek sterilization should be able to do so without jumping through hoops for paternalistic doctors.
- All of us have the right to information about our bodies, that doesn’t exclude or denigrate our identities or misgender us, to ensure we can maintain our health.
- All of us have a right to maintain our humanity, dignity, and health. This doesn’t change with citizen status or prisoner status.
- Intersectionality is important. Trans* activism must be cognizant of it, and willing to acknowledge the power hierarchies and systems of privilege within our own community.
- We all have the right to control our fertility how we see fit (whether through pregnancy, adoption, single parenthood, harvesting eggs, sperm banking, etc), and those services should be accessible and affordable.
- We are perfectly capable of being wonderful parents and raising amazing, well-adjusted children.
- Men can and do give birth. Not all those that give birth are mothers.
- Women can and do impregnate people. Not all those that impregnate are fathers.
- “Mothers” and “fathers” aren’t the only type of parents that exist.
- We have a right to obtain government issued identification documents that acknowledge our identities (even nonbinary ones!) without having to undergo costly surgery we may not even want.
- We shouldn’t have to conform to a coercive, gendered script for the comfort of cis people nor should we be expected to live or perform a typical trans* narrative to be taken seriously.
- We should be able to use public restrooms without being attacked, mocked, or arrested.
- Our identities and bodies shouldn’t be caricatured for the amusement of society.
- We are people. We are valid. We are here to stay.This is a work in progress. Any additions are welcome!
Reblogging here so more people will see this and also to plug my new trans*-centered repro justice blog.
They’re not babies, they’re fetuses. They don’t have brain cells. Their lives aren’t “destroyed”. All they are is a lump of cells. There is a cutoff for when abortion is NOT allowed because that’s when they get the brain cells and start to form into an ACTUAL baby. God. All this fucking guilt tripping propaganda is making me sick.
So… no. That’s not quite right.
Pretty early on, cells differentiate into layers, form an internal space, lay down the trackwork for a spinal cord, skeleton, brain… as soon as it’s a certain size there needs to be a heart to pump oxygen and nutrients to cells, and surprisingly early there’s a brain to stimulate developing muscles to twitch, and abortion is still legal.
(The “lump of cells stage” is more of an embryo thing, less of a fetus thing, fyi.)
Abortion is theoretically protected up to 24 weeks by the Supreme Court. It is possible, though rare and unlikely, for neonates delivered at or slightly before 24 weeks to, with truly fantastic modern medical intervention, survive and finish development outside the womb, sometimes with no developmental problems.
The brain is, at that stage, still not sufficiently formed for the idea of consciousness to be entertained (by doctors or the fetus!) — this presents an interesting case and gets into the theoretical ethics of artificial wombs; these fetuses are undergoing what is normal fetal development in an outside environment. They are still pre-persons in many ways, but our definitions haven’t developed a word to describe them. It’s the sort of question that I enjoy, because it makes me think about humanity in critical ways.
Back to the topic at hand, there’s also the consideration that there isn’t really a secret wellspring of frivolous late-term abortions, especially because the later one goes the more serious a procedure it is, and the more attractive carrying the pregnancy to term may be in comparison.
Plus, consent arguments, like I’ve posted links to before.
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