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Monday, 3 November 2014

Guest Post: A Feminist Pro-Lifer, Say What?!

Foreword: The guest writer of this post is my best friend in the world. I have written about our friendship here, and I am fairly sure she is my soulmate. Through the many, many things that we agree on, there is one thing which we certainly do not, and that is which side of the pro-life/pro-choice debate we fall on. I am absolutely an advocate of choice, while she is unwaveringly pro-life, and this has caused some heated discussions, to say the least. Where our opinions and beliefs again converge is that we are both hardened feminists, so I thought that it would be interesting to get her to write about what it means to be a feminist pro-lifer. 

An unwanted pregnancy can be a terrifying experience, regardless of your circumstances. I’m 24, employed and married to the love of my life – a couple of months ago, this did not help my snotty-nosed-quite-inebriated-self come to terms with the fact that my period was a week late as I repeatedly sobbed into my husband’s shoulder “I don’t want a baby yet”. I understood his incredulous gaze a few weeks later when after said period had come and gone we saw a cute baby advert and I asked “when can we have a baby like that please?”

But, if I had been pregnant, I would still have had the baby - because that is what I believe the fetus is: a baby, a person, a human. And I can’t justify my adult desires overriding the right to life of another human being, regardless of its size, its current residence or level of independence.

For many women who discover they are unexpectedly pregnant, their reasons for not wanting a baby can be a lot more poignant: they wouldn’t be able to afford a baby, they would be a single mum, they wouldn’t have anywhere to live, they would be trapped in an abusive relationship, they would lose their job, their baby would be taken into care… the list goes on.

As a pro-lifer, who believes in the humanity of the unborn from the moment of conception, I believe we should be fighting to eliminate these reasons rather than promoting a “quick fix” solution, which ends an innocent life.

As a feminist pro-lifer, I believe we should be fighting to eliminate these reasons in the name of equality. We should be fighting for recognition that while a woman’s biology does not define her, it is an important aspect of her identity and not an inconvenience that can be treated as such by society. It is, in fact, an incredible science, and should be celebrated.

I wouldn’t want a baby right now because I haven’t lived my own life to its full quite yet. But every time I have sex, I’m fully aware that there is a possibility that I could get pregnant. The majority of heterosexual couples are also aware that no contraceptive method is 100% effective at preventing a pregnancy, but they still choose to have sex and who can blame them? Sex is fun.

But it’s not consequence-free, however much you want it to be. And it’s not the sole responsibility of women to “deal” with an unwanted result of those cosy cuddles. It seems that society teaches men that, actually, they can have consequence-free sex and if a woman does become pregnant then the chivalrous thing to do is to let her know that it’s all on her – it’s her choice. She can make the life-changing decision, and he’ll drive her to the clinic or her local GP depending on her choice.

We’ve been indoctrinated into believing that choosing between either continuing or ending a pregnancy is empowering. It is taking control. Or is it actually taking responsibility for men’s actions? For their ignorance of the potential outcome resulting from sex? I certainly don’t see it as an empowering choice, I see it as an awful choice. You either suck it up and have a baby that you most certainly weren’t planning on having and therefore change the rest of your life, or have to go through an undeniably unpleasant procedure which could have long-term repercussions on your mental well-being. So in fact it’s a “which is worse” decision, not a choice.

Why should women have to shoulder all of this? How did men scoop such a good deal? They have fabulous sex, they don’t wear a condom (the sinking feeling that they may have to vanishes as soon as they hear that you’ve kindly been dosing up on hormones, one-a-day, for the past six years) and now we’re pregnant it’s still all on us – our responsibility, our problem to solve. It doesn’t sound like a very equal society to me.
The promotion of abortion is disguised as being the liberating answer to women’s oppression but if I am expected to terminate my pregnancy in order to keep my job, keep my partner or keep my house then I am not being empowered, I am still being oppressed by the patriarchal society in which we live.
I am not a commodity, I am proud of my biology and I do not believe that ‘feminist pro-lifer’ is an oxymoron.

Sarah Delap