Saturday, August 04, 2007

Giving Birth: The Responsible Thing to Do

Megan and I frequent the-n.com message boards. It's a site mainly for teenagers, but I've been there for so long that it's kind of hard to stop going, especially when these boards give so many opportunities to lay the smackdown on people. For the last few years, a lot of abortion topics have been made on the boards, and people give their positions and their opinions. It's a great way to find out what America's youth thinks about reproductive rights. Of course, those on both sides are just starting to get in on the abortion debate, so arguments for both sides, at times, aren't very thought out. This was made quite obvious when I posted a topic asking a (not so) simple question: Which is more irresponsible, having 10 abortions or having 10 children? In asking this question, I didn't set out to prove a point. In fact, I honestly didn't know what people were going to say. I just wanted opinions. I did, however, accurately predict the results of the poll. I had a strong feeling that many more people would believe that having 10 abortions was more irresponsible. Out of 112 casted votes, 73% (82 votes) said that having 10 abortions was more irresponsible, while 26% (30 votes) believed having 10 children was more irresponsible. One thing to know about the poll, one can vote more than once (I think some time has to go by before you can vote again), but I doubt anyone sat there and voted over and over. And now, the replies!

Several people said that it all depends.

"It depends on the woman's situation and how frequent these pregnancies were. A woman in her 60's who [has] had 10 abortions or children in her many years doesn't bother me. A woman in her 20's or 30's would cause me to become concerned for her health and lifestyle and first if I didn't know what her life was like. I would have to know the woman's situation before I can determine if she has been irresponsible."

"It depends on your definition of irresponsible. I happen to think that having 10 children is a little irresponsible and selfish. I mean, who wants to be one of ten? You'd have no identity. What motives would a parent have for having 10 children? Are they running a farm or something? Are they Angelina Jolie? I'm no one to tell someone how many children is right for them, but I can't even imagine a stable household with ten children. But, that's just me, I really don't want kids. Having 10 abortions obviously means something's wrong. I'm pro-choice, but I would hope to never see a woman who is seriously in the situation where 10 abortions become necessary. I wouldn't call it irresponsible, just sad."

"Well it also depends on what the woman's going to do once she has the 10 kids. Like give them up or keep them. Because not many regular people can properly take care of and provide for 10 kids."

"I think it all depends on the situation. Having 10 children and being extremely poor probably isn't responsible, but if you can handle having 10 children, why not? It's not irresponsible if you can provide for all of them. Having 10 abortions also could be seen as responsible if the parent knows that they wouldn't be able to care for their child if they went through with the pregnancy. And if they had 10 abortions because they were continually accidentally getting pregnant, then I wouldn't say that the abortions were irresponsible, but the person's sexual habits were."

"It depends" is a fine answer in my opinion. If anything, it shows that the gears are turning, even if they're somewhat painfully grinding . . . not unlike my teeth after reading the following, completely backwards, responses.

"Having 10 abortions. Having 10 children can mean a lot of things could happen. For example: An extremely wealthy person who can afford having 10 children and has time to give them attention isn't irresponsible. A woman who got pregnant twice, once with triplets and a second time with septuplets isn't irresponsible. A woman who spaces out their pregnancies so that when the older ones are able to take care of themselves, they have more children. A person who has children and adopts older kids, say at 16 years old, so that the children can have someone to help them finacially and emotionally get to college. Then at 18 they leave and they adopt someone new."

"I think so many abortions is the irresponsible thing here. That many abortions says to me, that the woman has never heard of other forms of birth control, and that she can't control herself on any means. 10 children isn't necesarily irresponsible. What if unplanned pregnancies happen, but the woman keeps them? Or what if surprise multiple babies happen. Say a woman really only has sex enough time for 3 or 4 babies, but then get multiple babies each individual time. That stuff happens. So yeah, I think 10 abortions is the real irresponsible thing."

In short, a woman with 10 children could have been in a variety of different situations. A woman who had 10 abortions can only be one thing: Irresponsible.

"Well, I want to say having 10 abortions. I mean, if you know that you don't want anymore children, you should do everything you can to prevent creating innocent lives and then taking them. But I also have to say that if you aren't rich and can't give all ten kids a good childhood, then I think that you really should reconsider having 10 kids. But between the two, I'd say that taking lives is worse than giving life."

"I picked 10 abortions because if she had 10 kids then at least they would have a chance to live."

Basically, giving 10 children shitty lives is better than not having any children at all.

"I would go with the abortions though, because the repeated procedure is of no good to her body while having the children does not mean she kept them."

"10 abortions. It doesn't matter if you're pro-life or pro-choice. Do you realize how bad for your body 10 abortions would be?"

So, even though abortion at any stage of pregnancy is safer than giving birth, 10 abortions does more damage to the woman's body than giving birth 10 times. Furthermore, raising 10 children to at least age 18 doesn't take a toll on a person's body at all. Interesting.

"I think the abortion is more irresponsible than having the kids because having babies and stuff is like a part of life."

"With having 10 abortions I think that is irresponsible, because the woman puts herself at a high risk to not be able to have children [in] the future due to that many abortions."

"If someone has the means to support ten children, it's her choice whether or not she feels she's up to it, and if she can raise ten children well, there's no problem, and i might personally consider her irresponsible for getting ten abortions."

Translation: You're not living responsibly unless you pop out a few.

Then there were a few that just completely defied all logic. I wasn't too surprised by the following responses, since pro-lifers don't seem to know much about reproduction, whether they're posting on a message board or holding up a sign with a photo of a stillbirth and the caption "ABORTION!"

"Having 10 abortions is more irresponsible, generally. Because that most likely means the woman was being irresponsible and not using any form of protection."

"I think it's more irresponsible to get 10 abortions because if you're really screwing around that much and getting pregnant everytime, I seriously doubt you're even trying to protect yourself in the first place."

"I think 10 abortions because she's probably having unprotected sex"

And a woman who gives birth to 10 kids had her tubes tied???? Apparently, having unprotected sex is only irresponsible if you don't want to give birth. Otherwise, fuck all ya want! Giving birth is the responsible thing to do! Thank goodness for responses like these:

"I think they are both the same. In both situations the woman had unprotected sex. But, if the woman wanted to have ten children, she needed to have unprotected sex."

"Well either way she's probably having unprotected sex. I mean you can't accidently get pregnant 10 times on a form of birth control. (well you can but only if you're dumb about it)."

I just don't get it. Since when is giving birth the unequivocal responsible thing to do? How can Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee get away with saying that he believes in personal responsibility in the same breath as saying he's pro-life? Part of being responsible is making your own decisions. The other part of responsibility is making important decisions for those who are incapable of making decisions for themselves. Since the basic tenet of conservatism of personal resposniblity and the pro-life philosophy don't go hand-in-hand, then conservatives like Mike Huckabee must believe that women are inherently irresponsible and can't make personal decisions for themselves. That's the only way the word responsibility can factor in to any pro-life position, and that's what I want to start hearing from the pro-life movement. I want pro-lifers to cut the "personal responsibility" bullshit and just say how they really feel.

1 comment:

napthia9 said...

Hey, I came here from your link at Feministing. Interesting stuff! It definitely gets at what people assume when they think about abortion or childbirth. It seems like a lot of your respondents were giving the benefit of the doubt to your hyptothetical 10 children woman and not so much to her abortion-getting alternate self (although there were a fair amount of people downplaying the dangers of childbirth versus the health risks of an abortion).

What I wonder is what sort of results you would get if you asked the same question, only this time specifying that both situations were the most morally acceptable ways of doing the thing. You know- tell your respondents that they can safely assume the woman with 10 children can take care of them all and that the woman with 10 abortions was a victim of rape, had a life-threatening pregnancy, or 10 of whatever they consider a "moral" abortion to be. Would there be a change in your results, and if so, how much?