An Open Letter to Pro-Lifers (CW: Abortion, Child Abuse)

Dear Pro-lifers,

You no doubt believe that when you oppose abortions, you are preserving life. Preserving life is not dishonourable, but in your rush to ban abortion, have you considered the impact upon quality of life? Have you stopped to think about the pressures and strains that you would place upon the would-be mother?

The degree to which you are pro-life might vary. Some of you may support abortions in some circumstances (such as in cases of rape, incest, or if it is clear the baby and/or mother would not survive the duration of the pregnancy). Some of you might oppose it in any circumstances. In any event, have you considered the demands you make of others?

How many of you (particularly those of a fundamentalist religious background) are prepared to argue against abortion, and also the societal situations that are driving up the cost of living? Will you support wealth taxes and living wages for people, so that they might be able to afford to raise a child, without having to choose between heating or food? In the case of the US health care system, will you support ending the incredible financial demands made by hospitals upon families? The average cost of giving birth in the USA is $18,865. Will you abolish this system, and therefore ease the burden upon would-be parents? Will you support anything that raises the quality of life for children, or will you maintain the forced-birth mentality that is so common among ‘pro-life’ forces?

If your only interest lies in forcing birth, and from that point on, you would not make any effort to change society for the better, are you really pro-life?

Then you must also consider reality, not rhetoric. Where abortion is legal, and where it is combined with realistic sex education (not the puritanical sex education some places teach), abortion rates are actually lower. Restrictions will not prevent women from seeking abortions, but may drive them to greater risks to obtain one.

There is another fact to consider. For under-age girls, pregnancy and childbirth are among the highest killers. If life is truly respected, why are so many ‘pro-lifers’ perfectly willing to risk the lives of teenage girls? I have debated with fundamentalists before, who would have no qualms about forcing 12 year-olds (and God forbid, even four year-olds) to give birth, despite the clear, obvious dangers to their lives. It seems many pro-lifers (not all, but many) are not moved by cases of rape, and lack sympathy for victims of sexual assault, which any under-age girl would be a victim of. The message to these young girls, irrespective of what you might intend, is that you do not care if they die, so long as the foetus forcibly placed within them without consent, lives. The message these girls will take away is that their future is irrelevant. The deep physical harm (even if they survive) may prevent them from having children in the future. It may leave them crippled for life. The psychological damage may be something they never recover from. If you claim to be pro-life, then why does none of that actually matter to you?

Some additional material I’ve written on this subject:

Pregnancy and Abortion

Out of Convenience

Some material written by Rebekah Kohlhepp:

Of Abortion and Abolition

Whether or not you will be moved by what I have to say, who can tell? However, facts would tell us that abortion will not go away (and in fact, in an unequal society, will only become more frequent) if banned. Facts would tell us that in a society where costs are rising spectacularly faster than income, people cannot afford to have children. Facts tell us that quality of life is as important as any other consideration. I urge you to heed facts.

Kind Regards,

Ben Berwick

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