Op-Ed

Do you really believe anyone supports abortion in the ninth month?

A March 2018 rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court
A March 2018 rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court Associated Press

We’ve gotten used to a president who tells lies so habitually, so routinely, that even the fact-checkers have grown blasé. We can become so numb, so exhausted by the everyday spectacle of lie after lie, that it’s easier to just go with the flow of believing the politicians, rather than consulting our own hearts or minds about what they tell us.

On abortion, for example.

You may have heard that some Democrats currently running for office are “pro-abortion.” In fact, that some are so “pro-abortion” that they are for it “right up to the moment of birth.”

Do you really believe that? Really?

I’ve yet to see or hear a statement from any politician who so much as makes reference to abortions at nine months, let alone advocating for them.

First, let’s clear up this mistaken notion that anyone — no matter how “liberal” — is “pro-abortion.” The correct designation is “pro-choice,” which describes who should be making crucial decisions about women’s reproductive life — the woman herself — and does not advocate what those decisions should be.

To be pro-choice is definitely not to be “anti-life,” as some would have you believe. Indeed, most pro-choicers are dedicated to creating the conditions that would allow women and girls to have more control over when and by whom they get pregnant.

That would be a world in which abortions would be rare. And it would be a world which would be more consistently “pro-life” than imagined by those whose concerns about “life” seem to stop at the moment of birth, who don’t seem to care nearly as much about the health, education and welfare of the children we bring into the world.

To be pro-life and not to support affordable health care for all, for example, is a contradiction in terms.

It’s ironic that Republicans, who used to be so offended by government intrusions into people’s choices, would have become so dedicated to the government taking over the reproductive choices of women.

I guess it really has nothing to do with anti-big government, and more to do with a failure to regard women as fully responsible, ethical decision-makers. Every woman — regardless of political affiliation, whatever her personal ethics or religious scruples regarding abortion — should feel insulted by that.

Actually, the very term “pro-abortion” is an insult to women, particularly to women who have made the decision to terminate a pregnancy in emotional pain and with deep sorrow — yet necessity.

I had an abortion when I was young and barely able to support myself, let alone a family. I mourned for weeks. And I never forgot the seriousness, the significance of the choice I made.

Consider the women who actually have been forced to undergo late-term abortions — when it has been discovered, for example, that their infants have stopped breathing, or would be unable to live outside the womb.

Do you know anyone who has been through that? Or through a stillbirth? Or through the pain and grief of having a child die days or weeks after birth? I do. She has never stopped grieving for that child.

Late-term abortions are no less emotionally and physically wrenching than a stillbirth. No one is “for” them.

Politicians who deploy these notions promote a deeply patronizing agenda, as they try to persuade women to ignore the wisdom of their own hearts and minds to trust a government still run largely by men who have never, and will never, experience pregnancy.

Those men would cringe at the thought of control over their reproductive lives being in the hands of the government, and — surprise! — have never enacted such laws.  

Susan Bordo is a mother, teacher and author. She holds the Otis A. Singletary Chair in the Humanities at the University of Kentucky. Her most recent book is “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton: Untangling the Political Forces, Media Culture, and Assault on Fact That Decided the 2016 Election.”

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