Call it what it is


I wish they’d just be honest, you know? I wish the 25 Alabama senators who voted to pass a bill effectively banning abortion could just be honest about their reasoning.

Because of course, they say it’s about protecting the unborn child. Protecting a potential new life. They turn it into an argument about defending the defenceless, speaking up for the innocent – good (babies!) versus evil (killing babies). State senator Clyde Chambliss said, “Human life has rights, and when someone takes those rights, that’s when we as government have to step in. When God creates that life, that miracle of life inside the woman’s womb, it’s not our place as humans to extinguish that life. That’s what I believe.”

“That’s what I believe.” In miracles, like turning water into wine. In stories where “good” triumphs over “evil”. In a God whose existence cannot possibly be proven. Chambliss doesn’t believe in biology, clearly, if he thinks it’s his fuzzy, theoretical God who creates life. I suspect his 24 buddies feel much the same. It’s about God, it’s about miracles, it’s about beautiful theories that bear no resemblance to reality.

I want them to be honest. I want them to show us their reality. Rather than hiding behind religion, all gilt and myth and fables, I want to them to say what they really think. Because I’m sure I know: they hate women and want to control them. That’s the ugly truth; why else would you try and hide behind something so flimsy and easily-dismantled? Only the audacity of hate would lead you to employ such a poor disguise. One swift sigh and their pretty blossoms are gone, and we see cold bare branches and jagged, broken twigs, the spikes of loathing and distrust.

Because if you’re really concerned about the rights of children and what happens to the unwanted ones, here’s what you do: firstly, you fund sex and relationship education and make contraception as available and accessible as it can possibly be. For both men and women.

Your second move is making parenting an equal endeavour. Create a society where having children doesn’t interrupt women’s lives irrevocably. Fathers can walk away – and do, frequently – so if you care about the children, make it harder for fathers to walk away without a backward glance. Implement practical parental leave policies while you’re at it, and provide affordable childcare. Sure, it all sounds like a utopian dream but so does having a God who creates life and works miracles, right?

You’ll need back-up, too, because life does go wrong. So fund social services. Make sure there are places for victims of domestic violence to go. Make sure victims of rape and abuse are taken seriously. If it’s the children who really are your main concern, you start by making the world a better place for the ones already in it.

And you do all this long before you start forcing women to go through pregnancies they don’t want… don’t you? Because forcing a woman to go through tremendous physical and emotional changes and pain against her will, well, that’s the opposite of compassion. That’s torture. Not giving people a choice on being pregnant and giving birth is abuse – no more, no less. And what becomes of someone who’s forced to give birth to a child she does not want? Unhappy or reluctant parents do not necessarily create the most loving and stable families. And if you’re really fighting to protect children, that’s a heck of a gamble. How do you defend potentially destroying two lives? It just doesn’t sound very… pro-life.

So call it what it is. You don’t understand women, you fear them, you’re disgusted by them, you just hate them for no reason at all. Because if it’s the children who really are your main concern, you start talking to men too.

If you think abortion under any circumstances and at any time should be illegal, you believe that women should be punished for having sex. Not men, women. Punished. I don’t know how many times we have to point out the facts here but: contraception fails. Mistakes happen. People change their minds. People commit rape and abuse. And if you don’t give women a way out, a back-up, a safety net, you may as well just come out and say it: you think men are superior and women deserve to suffer. You think women need to be told what to do. You think you know better than a woman what she wants, what she’s capable of, what’s best for her life. Perhaps more grotesquely, you think what you want to happen to her body is more important than what she wants. Which bears the unmistakable hallmarks of abuse.

You can stop pretending this is about protecting children now. We can see the bare branches and jagged, broken twigs, and we’re going to use them as firewood.

Women in Northern Ireland still can’t access abortion. If you want to help, Abortion Support Network do great work, so do consider slinging some money their way.

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