10 Things I Told My Daughter About Abortion

Ottawa Pro Choice Presence at the 2010 National March for Life Rally
Ottawa Pro Choice Presence at the 2010 National March for Life Rally Photo by Jenn Farr via Flickr
On days when my wife works at the hospital and has the car, the kid and I hike about quarter of a mile to her elementary school. This is her favorite place to ask me Important Questions™… probably because she realizes at that point I’m only 40 percent awake and will not have the mental capacity to do anything but answer simply and honestly. Sleep deprivation is like sodium pentathol in the hands of a child.

I don’t remember exactly what she asked me that made me answer the word, “abortion,” but it segued right into “what’s an abortion?” She’s going to be ten this summer. We’ve been teaching her about human reproduction since she was at least five. Horrifyingly, that’s the youngest age anyone has ever given birth, and I have a close friend who was raped at an even younger age. With that knowledge, it was important to me to equip my daughter with language and understanding just in case something awful happened. Plus, the younger they know about reproduction from evidence-based sources the less likely it is that the inevitable misinformation supplied by her friends will find room to grow. Having frank and open discussions with your kids about sex is very important if you don’t want the world to use sex as a weapon against them.

So, that meant we were discussing abortion, which I realized had never come up in our talks. In fact, she’d come to the conclusion on her own that once you were pregnant there was nothing that could be done. I gathered my thoughts, and here is what I told her in very abbreviated terms.

10. Sometimes birth control fails through no fault of the people using it. Condoms break and oral contraceptives can be rendered less effective by everything from using antibiotics to weighing more than 165 pounds. Even people taking reasonable precautions to not get pregnant do so, often at times at which having a baby can have severe negative impacts on their lives. For those people, abortion is an option.

9. Abortion is a medical term that has taken on a perverted social meaning. Any removal of a non-viable fetus without plans to re-implant is an abortion. That’s what goes on medical forms. What we call a miscarriage is an abortion, and 25 to 35 percent of pregnancies end that way without people even knowing they are pregnant. If a person with a uterus is having unprotected sex, the odds are one in four or better they will have an abortion as understood by the medical community. Removing a dead fetus from an ectopic pregnancy is an abortion. Abortion is not just random teenagers at Planned Parenthood, no matter how often conservatives scream about it.

8. You have a right to end a pregnancy that you do not want under the 14th Amendment. Contrary to Republican thinking, the constitution is not just a picture of a gun with hearts drawn around it. Various states restrict this to different degrees. Most abortion after 20 weeks or so is illegal as that is roughly around the time that fetuses become able to live outside the womb. Abortions after that time are incredibly rare, and always done by  doctors when it is clear continuing the pregnancy will endanger the life of the person carrying. Virtually no one just chooses to not have a baby at that stage, and no doctor who isn’t a monster will perform one.

7. There is nothing medically unsafe with having an abortion. One in three American women do. While all medical procedures down to giving children grape-flavored ibuprofen carry risks, abortion remains one of the safest procedures you can have. More people die getting their tonsils taken out than from abortion complications. Anyone who tells you abortion is a fast-track to infertility or breast cancer or some other dark fate is talking ex cathedra from their butthole.

6. You’re not killing a baby. A three-month-old fetus is not a person. Honestly, it’s closer to a tumor than a person in that period*. That’s why ectopic pregnancies happen. An embryo will implant wherever it can and start sucking nutrients to grow. The reason human babies are born so helpless is literally because if they were allowed to continue growing to the stage most mammals are born at the human carrying them would literally die from it. At some point around that 20-22 week milestone, the fetus becomes a person. Before that, it is a part of your body.

5. Just like with sex, you own your body. A person can’t be legally compelled to donate a kidney against his or her will, and you should not be required to incubate against yours. The autonomy of the person carrying the child is more of a consideration than the potential baby. It simply is. A lot of people want to reduce women to brood mothers who exist only to grow our children, and the focus they put on saving fetuses over women is part of that.

4. Almost no one who opposes abortion and reproductive choice is in it to save babies no matter what they say. A few young and naïve people are tricked into that, but most anti-abortion activists care only about controlling women. Otherwise they would do everything in their power to prevent unwanted pregnancy such as supporting subsidized birth control and comprehensive sex education in school. They don’t because making women afraid is the true goal.

3. That’s why so many states – which are run mostly by people who can’t get pregnant – are passing as many laws as they can to make it so that people can’t access abortion services. A pro-choice woman came very close to being president and that scares the absolute hell out of them. So they’re passing unconstitutional laws to try and sneak in a chance to weaken women’s rights and resources. Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and more want women afraid, chained down with kids they can’t afford and with men they can’t get away from, or hopefully in jail where they can’t vote.

2. Which brings me to this: if you get pregnant, come to me. If you want to keep the baby, I will help in every way. If you want to not keep it, I will help in every way even if it gets me sent to jail. Every good father should respect his child’s bodily autonomy and want what is best for them even if a state overcome with crazed delusions says no. I am willing to fight the law for you over your choice.

1. And if any of your friends get pregnant and feel they have nowhere to go, come to me as well. These fascist bastards get away with things when they can tear down the care systems that enable us to help each other. Wrongness thrives best when the law opposes what’s right and it’s easiest to do nothing. Reproductive freedom is essential to individual liberty. Any good father would want that for his daughter and would definitely do his best to stop all the attempts to limit her place in the world she will inherit. Only scumbag men look at abortion and think it isn't their problem.

*Please don't @ me about how it's not a tumor to people who want a baby. My wife and I spent three years trying to have our daughter, which you can read about here
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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner