“No one is for abortion!”

This is an entry in the Pro-Abortion series.

(image modified from a wrongcards)

You will sometimes hear a talking head from some organization or clinic saying something like “well, no one is for abortion,” and trying to portray the “reasonable” position that abortion is undesirable, terrible, but that it’s a “necessary evil.” Even if they won’t say the words “necessary evil,” it always seems to be in the back of their minds, or at least the belief that it’s a “necessary undesirable.”

Here’s the question though, why is abortion undesirable and terrible? It is a surgical operation, and like all surgical operations, it carries with it some risk. In fact, abortions are amongst the safest surgical operations that can be performed. It also generates some amount of traumatism for the patient, but so do all surgical operations.

As for any other surgical operation, we accept the risk and traumatism, however big or small it is, because the operation brings about some greater good desired by the patient. The greater the good, the more risk and traumatism we are ready to accept. It’s really that simple. And abortion, while not usually a matter of life or death, does bring about a tremendous good: not having to bring to term a new life which will occupy the next twenty years of one’s life, not starting a new human life which will be the victim of harm and suffering. That’s a great benefit.

One may reply that abortion is like any other operation, that we don’t think the operation itself is a benefit, and that we would rather have the benefit without the operation. Following this logic, it is better to not be pregnant at all than to have to have an abortion. But I think that is the wrong way of looking at the situation (especially since some pregnancies are inevitable, as long as people will have PIV). We should rather ask, all other things being equal, is it better for abortion to be made more available or less available? Is it better for more abortions to be performed, or less abortions? Clearly it is better for there to be more abortions. I would rather have an abortion clinic in every neighborhood than daycare centers.

We absolutely do need abortions to be widespread. Even the most effective contraception methods used in a perfect manner (I am excluding surgical operations like vasectomies here) still yield a 2-6% unintended pregnancy rate per year. This means that over a period of five years, you have an average from 10% to 27% probability of experiencing an unintended pregnancy, again if the contraceptive is used in a perfect manner. Typical (non-perfect) condom use see a 56% probability of unintended pregnancy over five years. This is a gigantic risk to take without abortions being widely available to all. Even vasectomies, done perfectly, yield a 0.5% accidental pregnancies rate over five years, which means that for every thousand men who get perfect vasectomies, five will end up starting a pregnancy. This should be a scary scenario for anyone.

Even though she is pro-childbirth, which is ridiculous, Jill of Feministe (a funfem blog, not a radical feminist blog) understands why abortion is good in itself:

Abortion itself, though, can be a savior for women, and a positive choice. Abortion is a medical procedure and, like most medical procedures, is preempted by some sort of negative event. And yet the discourse around abortion is focused on how “tragic” it is. Is open-heart surgery “tragic”? Is an appendectomy “tragic”? Obviously the circumstances leading up to open-heart surgery and appendectomy are bad. But the procedures themselves, I would argue, are good responses to bad situations. As is abortion.

My real topic in this entry is not abortion but gatekeepers. The pro-choice spokespeople just happen to be a good example of what gatekeepers do. Their objective is to become part and parcel of a system which makes childbirth the default and abortion an aberration. Like everyone who seeks to integrate emselves within the dominant paradigm, they have to not only conform to the expectations of the public but also to suppress anyone who is on their side but fails to conform to those expectations as well.

This is the role of the gatekeeper, to keep “undesirable” elements out of a movement or ideology and ensure that only ideas and soundbites that are compatible with the goal of public relations are allowed in public discourse. Like all attempts at integrating within political discourse, their decisions are made on the basis of pragmatism, not about truth. Saying that abortion is positive has no political benefit and plenty of political downsides, so it must be suppressed. Even though they know it is the truth, and they know they are lying, they must keep pretending that the position doesn’t exist and is a straw man; to admit the opposite would open them to further accusations and would be pragmatically counter-productive.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
Upton Sinclair
(to which I would add: same for women, too)

Gatekeepers can be all sorts of people or organizations. Some include unions, political parties, interest groups, academics, self-styled activist elites, and basically anyone who plots at organizing any field that has any possibility of activism. Anyone who sniffs power for themselves may take on traits of gatekeepers (such as older atheists who try to stop younger atheists from expressing how much they hate religion).

The avowed aim of gatekeepers is to gain support from the public and from the power elite (especially politicians). Any form of radical activism necessarily goes counter to that intent, because it goes against the interest of the power elite and of the segments of the population that support it. Therefore it is always in their interest to suppress or co-opt radical activism. They become the equivalent of slave overseers, people who are part of the same “group” but whose job it is to keep everyone else in the “group” subservient.

The end result is that gatekeepers are part of the emergence of a movement but paradoxically keep a movement from growing, because they channel people’s energies into fruitless political pursuits and suppress creativity in the name of that channeling.

The saddest part is that some gatekeepers (not all, by far, but some) are good-intentioned and really truly believe that they are doing what’s best for their community or ideological group. They believe that some “tough love” is necessary to align “rebels” in their group with the “proper behaviour” necessary to mimic in order to be successful in the “marketplace of ideas” (hi db0!).

It can be hard to argue against such blindingly naive honesty. The best course of action, I think, is to ignore these self-appointed leaders and speak your mind, even if that means ostracism. Likewise, if anyone ever tries to establish themselves as leaders of any pro-abortion movement in the future, I will blithely tell them to fuck off.

35 thoughts on ““No one is for abortion!”

  1. […] to the pro-abortion position. (this entry) “No one is for abortion!” (01/09) Anti-Abortion Q&A [part 1] (01/15), [part 2] (01/17), [part 3] (01/19) Secret […]

  2. David Gendron January 10, 2012 at 09:28

    Based on this very post, I’m pro-abortion. The part about gatekeepers is priceless!

  3. ErikM January 10, 2012 at 20:13

    “Self-ownership” comes to mind here, but of course the question of when the fetus or baby has this right will be an area of debate. I think I know where the “gatekeepers” will stand– in front of the gate, key in hand, refusing access to the right of keeping to yourself as they claim ownership of others.

    • Francois Tremblay January 10, 2012 at 20:51

      Actually, I’ve already covered that in past entries.

  4. rae January 14, 2012 at 11:08

    my personal feeling about abortion is that it could have saved me. i was born with horrible genetic defects that make any sort of ordinary or “happy” life impossible (although i dont believe that anyone can have a happy life anyways). i always think….i wish that something would have been done to save me from this life. i would have accepted being aborted. but my mother had no idea. it really hurts her that i have to live like this. i also think about animals, research animals, and how i would have given anything or done anything to prevent them from being born into this hell.

  5. […] already discussed gatekeepers and how they operate (see the second half of this entry). In an ideological movement, a gatekeeper is a person who is in charge of some organization or […]

  6. […] for a bunch of politico liberals to claim to speak for all leftists. Talk about some fucking gatekeepers right here. The answer most definitely ought not to be […]

  7. […] of others, and that ideas must be sold in a way that appeases people (for a similar concept, see “gatekeeper”). The underlying premises are those of groupthink and pragmatism; the proponents want you to […]

  8. Heretic September 29, 2014 at 01:46

    This post sums up why pro-choicers are cowards: too scared to admit that abortion is positive, that we live in a natalist culture where the dominant paradigm IS giving birth. This is why after I realized the pro-birth culture we live in, I changed from “pro-choice” to “pro-abortion.”

    “Choice” implies women can equally decide either way, which is a farce, or that both acts are equally valid; again, a farce. It’s a way for anti-abortionists to harass women and guilt-trip them into changing their minds. This is not only completely unethical but needs to be illegal.

    • Francois Tremblay September 29, 2014 at 01:48

      Wow, I did not expect that! So are you an antinatalist now, or…?

      • Heretic September 29, 2014 at 01:51

        Not sure. I’m for people not giving birth until/unless we get a sustainable population (if that’s even a possibility). And I’m definitely childfree on a personal level; don’t want kids, don’t plan on having any ever. What do you think?

        • Francois Tremblay September 29, 2014 at 01:54

          Conditionals are kindof a grey area, but I would probably say yes. You only have to agree that “procreation is wrong,” not necessarily wrong in all possible worlds.

        • Francois Tremblay September 29, 2014 at 01:57

          Welcome to the group of antinatalist weirdoes, enjoy your stay. :)

        • Francois Tremblay September 29, 2014 at 02:14

          Great entry, you cover a wide range of points there. I’ll have to post it. Have you also seen this:

          • Heretic September 29, 2014 at 02:40

            Yes, about twice before. Reading it again now it leads me to the topic of discussing things purely in the realm of ideas vs. material reality. Since I read many of your posts and like to connect the dots, it’s cool.

            I think we make decisions based on our current information and awareness at the time, but propaganda /public relations has a HUGE role to play in influencing our behavior, too. Bernays, a cousin of Freud, was the mastermind behind this – he stated that since people don’t have time to do heavy research on things that propagandists would do the work for them. Ironically, his little book Propaganda IS a work of propaganda – he also stated that PR specialists have the “public’s best interest” in mind! If you have never seen Century of Self (a 3-part documentary), I highly recommend it. You won’t be disappointed.

            It doesn’t stop there. One of my points of disagreement with other radfems is how the family is the first institution encountered by a child and parents have a big influence on their early years. It’s not just peers or the “patriarchy” of the outer world. Parental relations are just as much an extension of patriarchy as they are influenced by it – like how patriarchy creates the conditions that encourage abusive parenting, for example.

            • Francois Tremblay September 29, 2014 at 02:53

              “Yes, about twice before. Reading it again now it leads me to the topic of discussing things purely in the realm of ideas vs. material reality.”
              Geesh, that’s a big one. It took me a long time to “get” that.

              “I think we make decisions based on our current information and awareness at the time, but propaganda /public relations has a HUGE role to play in influencing our behavior, too.”
              I have read a book about PR which included a short overview of Bernays, that’s it. I do have that movie on my Netflix queue.

              “It doesn’t stop there. One of my points of disagreement with other radfems is how the family is the first institution encountered by a child and parents have a big influence on their early years. It’s not just peers or the “patriarchy” of the outer world. Parental relations are just as much an extension of patriarchy as they are influenced by it – like how patriarchy creates the conditions that encourage abusive parenting, for example.”
              Well, yea. How is this controversial?

              • Heretic September 29, 2014 at 03:14

                Not very controversial for radical feminism itself, but a few radfems I used to associate with. Like, I was called “misogynist” for pointing out abusive single mothers – even while acknowledging the circumstances that lead to their behavior (poverty, mental illness, drug/alcohol abuse, lack of support). My own experiences didn’t matter. It was a reversal – the abused was the abuser.

                Later, I found out it wasn’t a one-off – the same radfems went on to support a witnessed and outed abusive mother. WTF?

                Again, not a reflection on radical feminism itself – but it does bring to mind the dilemma between “We’re all sisters and therefore responsible for countering our community’s bullshit vs. we’re all sisters and therefore you need to go along with the bullshit.” Internet culture is bad that way.

              • Heretic September 29, 2014 at 03:29

                I should note that in the first argument it was just a few radfems. In the second, there were a LOT of them defending the abusive mother – they probably (unlike the accusing radfem) weren’t familiar with the woman personally and assumed it was just another trashing of a woman/mother/radfem intended to divide women, but still.

              • Heretic September 29, 2014 at 03:34

                Yeah, sometimes I don’t clarify well. I just mean that re: the crappy “choice” argument, the focus is on the realm of ideas, rather than how our circumstances are in material reality. They like the realm of ideas, because then they can pretend every “choice” is equally valid. It’s also where male fantasies lie.

        • Francois Tremblay September 29, 2014 at 13:15

          That is very strange. So they supported women’s rights but didn’t support children’s rights… that just goes to show you how insular radicals can be. This is a tendency that I hope to redress a little bit on this blog. I try to be as wide-ranging as possible.

        • Francois Tremblay September 29, 2014 at 13:16

          “the crappy “choice” argument, the focus is on the realm of ideas, rather than how our circumstances are in material reality. ”
          Yea, I know! I didn’t mean that it took me a long time to “get” what YOU were saying. I meant that it took me a long time to “get” that I should stop focusing so much on ideas and more on material conditions and the ideas that emerge from THAT. I started as an Objectivist, so… :)

    • Heretic September 29, 2014 at 01:49

      Oh yeah, another thing: people assume that being “pro-abortion” means you want to FORCE abortion on women, rather than making it legal and available everywhere, which adds to the stigma of abortion. Nobody makes this claim about being “pro” anything else except for hate ideologies. What a scare tactic.

      • Francois Tremblay September 29, 2014 at 01:52

        Well this is awkward.

        • Heretic September 29, 2014 at 02:00

          Maybe I can only speak for myself here, but in the Southern US “abortion” is still a dirty word. And while my mom claims she never knew about it, in Puerto Rico when forced sterilization was happening some nationalist parties were using “eugenics” hysteria to promote natalism – abortion and even the Pill were included as being part of the evil US scheme to prevent Latina women from reproducing.

          • Francois Tremblay September 29, 2014 at 02:02

            Yea, I know about forced sterilization used by the US in various places. That’s not antinatalist, though… that’s racist. Antinatalism is a universal philosophy. We sympathize with all children and hate all parents, no matter their race. :)

            • Heretic September 29, 2014 at 02:04

              LOL! True :-)
              Earlier today I saw a post on motherhood talking about how awesome it was having a “child that worships me.” This is the very thing I’m against.

            • Heretic September 29, 2014 at 02:29

              Although white and upper-class people are the ones socially encouraged to reproduce, abortion is still pretty expensive for poor people. Here it’s $600 for a medical and $800 for a surgical one. Now having all that money at one time to spare? For poor people working minimum-wage jobs, it’s super difficult. “Wanting an abortion” is nearly impossible.

              Note: Obamacare and Planned Parenthood have supposedly changed this somewhat. I need to look into it. http://www.politico.com/story/2014/09/gao-report-obamacare-abortion-rules-ignored-110990.html

          • Francois Tremblay September 29, 2014 at 02:06

            “child that worships me”
            … for now.

            • Heretic September 29, 2014 at 02:09

              Really!! (As if they can afford not to)

  9. L June 21, 2015 at 02:46

    Hmm, I’m pretty new to this site (stumbled over here from feminist current a few days ago) and have spent the last few days reading your Pro-Abortion series. We usually have 2 options-prochoice and anti-choice; this concept of pro-abortion adds another dimension.

    I was reading a pro-choice article in which the author was criticizing the Democratic party mantra on abortion “safe, legal and rare.” She was bothered by this b/c it reinforces the idea that abortion is bad..she basically said that prochoice people should argue that abortion should happen as many times as a woman needs or wants it to. ..that aiming for abortion to be rare should not be part of the pro-choice rhetoric.

    I do wonder what would happen to birth rates (globally) if abortion, sterilization, birth control (all kinds) and hysterectomies were free and easy to get..would men and women line up to take advantage of these? From the reading I’ve done on family planning in different parts of the world, many women don’t use bc because of lack of access, knowledge or cost.

    • Francois Tremblay June 21, 2015 at 03:03

      Agreed entirely! As long as the pro-choice people keep evading the reality that we need abortions, no matter what… they will never adequately defend abortion as a human right and a health issue. But it seems to me that confronting that head-on would be too uncomfortably close to the pro-abortion position for them.

      What did you think of the series?

      • L June 24, 2015 at 01:07

        Yep, I don’t think pro-choice politicians can really come out and say abortion is a good thing (although I suspect more people are pro-abortion than they would publicly admit). I would love to see more prochoice politicians say abortion should be affordable, safe, legal and easy to access. End of story-no talk about how sad abortion is or how women don’t really want abortions and etc. (leave that talk for the antichoice segment).

        I wish I had a long list of constructive criticism, but I really don’t…I thought the series was well-written, consistent, and acknowledged other sides of the argument.

  10. […] culture where capitalism is dominant. But the end result is that left-wing authorities end up being gatekeepers towards anyone who disagrees with the status quo. The role of a gatekeeper is to keep their […]

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