Pro-Choicers Hate the "What if I Hadn't Been Born" Question. Here's Why.   

What Women Really Think
Oct. 24 2011 3:45 PM

Pro-Choicers Hate the "What if I Hadn't Been Born" Question. Here's Why.   

The pro-choice movement relies on a carefully crafted image to make its position seem responsible and caring: that women should be allowed to abort their unplanned pregnancies because unwanted children grow up poor, neglected, abused or some combination thereof. It can’t allow for the possibility that some “unwanted” children actually grow up in loving homes and become responsible, even successful, adults; or that couples who take responsibility for unplanned children can be as good of parents as couples who wait until they’re ready to have a family.

Rachael Larimore Rachael Larimore

Rachael Larimore is a Slate senior editor.

And when they are presented with evidence to the contrary,out comes the name-calling.  Amanda, in your post on the “Conceived in Rape” tour, you wrote that pro-lifers are “misogynist sex-phobes” and claimed that “anti-choicers playing the ‘what if MY mother had an abortion card’ are simply exploiting … politeness.” Is that your blanket assessment of the pro-life movement? Can you not allow for the possibility that someone who is opposed to abortion has turned the issue over in their mind repeatedly, that they’ve struggled with it? That they concluded after much thought that, on one hand it’s ugly to subject women to have children they didn’t plan for but it’s uglier to do away with innocent lives just because they are inconvenient, to the tune of 50 million abortions since Roe v. Wade went into effect?

Advertisement

As I have written about before, I was born to teenage parents in 1972, before Roe v. Wade. I don’t know what would have happened had abortion been legal in Ohio then, but the timeline is such that I’ve always counted my lucky stars to have been given a chance to be born.

Before I go further, I will allow that, as a rape survivor (yes, I must have won some lottery for interesting life experiences), the “Conceived in Rape” tour you write about creeps me out to some degree. At the same time, these people have lived their lives having to deal with the knowledge of their conception, and the knowledge that half their genetic material comes from a monster, so it seems unfair to pick on them.

But the “what if my mom had an abortion” applies to more people than those whose mothers were raped.  It applies to people born in the mixed up days before Roe v. Wade when abortion was legal in some places and not others. It applies to everyone who’s ever been adopted.  Of course, it really applies to EVERYONE, but some of us have more cause to dwell on it than others.

And I think the reason that we freak out the pro-choice movement so much is not that we’re woman-hating sex phobes. It’s that we fly in the face of the narrative about how awful life is for unwanted children. We give lie to the claim that a fetus is just a clump of tissue. We offer painfully real evidence of what happens if you don’t have an abortion. It’s very easy to say “but what about all the times that you have sex and don’t get pregnant?” Duh.  But once something has been done, it can’t simply be undone.  An aborted fetus had a heartbeat, and a brain, and, depending on the gestational age, tiny arms and legs and maybe even fingers and toes. It was human.

I don’t know if the world itself is a better place because I’m in it. Frankly, I’m rather average and to a stranger might not appear the least bit interesting. There’s nothing remarkable about being a working mom with three kids living in the burbs and schlepping to Target in my SUV.  But my life is precious to me.  It’s funny—many people are pro-life because of their religious convictions. I am pro-life at least in part because I’m not religious. I don’t believe in fate, or that God has some purpose for me. My being here is accidental and miraculous and I value every second of it. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.