Monday, May 28, 2012

Emotional Effects

How women feel about their abortions varies.

Sometimes the pro-life side underscores the negative mental and emotional impacts for post-abortive women.  Pro-choice advocates often reject such claims and instead suggest women frequently feel relief after an abortion.

Other times the pro-choice side claims most women don’t even want abortions, but feel they have no choice due to their circumstances; some pro-choicers insist women feel terrible about needing an abortion in the first place.  Pro-life activists will respond with skepticism, pointing to pro-abortion (distinct from “pro-choice”) apologetics saying abortion is “like getting a filling at the dentist.”

Arguments about the emotional effects of abortion rage on, but even if we achieved consensus, it’s not clear to me how that would change things one way or another. From the pro-choice perspective, it should be legal for a woman to obtain an abortion even if it will emotionally scar her.  From a pro-life perspective, it should be illegal to kill the fetus even if the woman feels relieved after her abortion. 

It’s important to understand the effects of abortion for the purposes of informing abortion-minded women and determining optimal processes for women obtaining abortions. However, as far as the legality of abortion, do emotional effects matter? 


Philipp said...

Appeal to the emotional effects of abortion seem only pointless if the debate is reduced to its legal aspects. And you are right that as a legal matter, whether something hurts you emotionally or not has no obvious bearing on the question of whether it should be allowed or not. However, the abortion debate is multifaceted, and at least two debates come to my mind where appeal to emotional effects makes sense:
1. One of the aims of the pro-life movement is to reduce the number of abortions by showing its adverse effects to woman who might otherwise chose to abort their child. I.e., these women might choose to carry their child for ultimately selfish reasons (protecting themselves against the negative side-effects of the procedure), and while this is from a pro-life standpoint not the ideal mindset, it still protects the child from being aborted.
2. Public support for abortion rights relies (I believe) implicitly on the assumption that it is a procedure that benefits women. Appeal to post-abortion trauma is supposed to undermine this belief.

Ellis Dirtpipe said...

The "Pro-Life movement" doesn't care about reducing the number of abortions. The only priority of the "Pro-Life movement" is making abortions illegal. To that end, any discourse is directed to further the agenda of making abortion a crime. If pro-lifers really cared about reducing the number of abortions, they would not be working so fervently to promulgate abstinence only education nor would they be trying to stigmatize the use of birth control.

Dolce said...

Right, that's why Crisis Pregnancy Centers are run by pro-lifers (look up Birthright), that's why organizations that advocate for young mothers are run by pro-lifers (look up Feminists for Life), that's why pro-lifers provide help for families whose unborn children receive a fatal diagnosis (look up unborn palliative care), that's why pro-lifers offer help to women walking into Planned Parenthood clinics (look up any pro-life blog), that's why pro-lifers are in favor of adoption reform, etc ... the list could go on and on. It's true, we care about making abortion illegal because state-funded killing is the endorsement of a human rights violation on the grandest scale, but we ALSO care about making abortion both UNNECESSARY and UNTHINKABLE. The two approaches are by no means mutually exclusive.

Cheryl said...

You have a point, Dolce, but Ellis is more right. The pro-life movement has done a lot to keep individual women from having abortions be it crisis pregnancy centers, Planned Parenthood trolling, or TRAP laws. Considering most abortions in the US are for birth control, the pro-life movement hasn't done the most effective things to reduce the rate of unplanned pregnancy which are comprehensive sex education and access to birth control.

Keeping this in mind it's easy to see why people view the pro-life movement as more fixated on eliminating women's reproductive healthcare choices than on preventing abortion.

Anonymous said...

"If pro-lifers really cared about reducing the number of abortions, they would not be working so fervently to promulgate abstinence only education nor would they be trying to stigmatize the use of birth control."

Setting aside that I loathe the term "pro-life" for a moment, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your assumption that everyone who is against abortion also believes in abstinence only education and is against the use of birth control. You know what they say about those who assume.

Erik von Schei├če said...

Yes, all of the non-religious, anti-abortion, pro-contraception, pro-gay-marriage people out there who still vote republican because the abortion issue is the one thing that sets them off as the most important issue out there. Yeah those people-- those non-morons.

Anonymous said...

I don't vote Republican or Democrat just to do so. I consider myself an Independent and try to vote for what best represents me. That's usually not easy considering I'm anti-abortion, pro-contraception, pro-same-sex marriage, pro-equal pay, pro-separation of church and state (I am religious, but I'm not Christian since religious does not equality Christian), etc.