I have yet to tackle the issue of abortion directly here. I assume that because I am an anarchist and rather forward about it that most assume I am in the ‘Pro-Choice’ camp. I do not find it productive to give a utilitarian argument for the issue for you can find that many places. I lean towards support of the basic feminist thoughts and perspectives in this area. In this I will take the side of differing groups and perspectives. Most specifically I will look at Christian Fundamentalism and Feminism. I personally honor and stand with the later. I stand against oppression and patriarchy and this is one issue that has benefited one genders dominance over the other.
Focusing on the Religious perspective.
I am going to focus on the concept of abortion being murder, so let us say for a moment that the anti-abortion movement is right and abortion is murder, and I will side with them for a moment. I will make a distinction between pro-life and anti-abortion, for there is a clear distinction in the case of this being true. I do have respect for a pro-life stance that includes a rejection of other forms of violence. If one believes life begins at conception and they reject all assaults against the life of individuals I can respect this stance. It may not be my belief, but I have sympathy for the perspective. This is also what I would see as a pro-life stance for it is one that would include life not only in the womb, but pro-life all around. I have met and associated with many anti-war anti-police individuals who take this stance and I respect this as pro-life that would speak out in defense of all life not just the fetus. If one believes abortion is violence and sees military and police violence as acceptable because it is ‘legal’ or authorized by the state there should be no issue with abortion that is authorized by the state. I see this as a belief in choosing what legal violence one chooses to accept. Perhaps if the doctor had a badge and did the abortion with an M-16 A2 service rifle they may begin to accept the abortion. I see this later group as anti-abortion. They honor no life outside of the womb and this I see as a selective stance that is contradictory.
Since it is most often the Christian fundamentalist voice that speaks loudest on the anti-abortion side I have decided to keep this article focused on what the Bible says about abortion. The bible does not mention abortion by name. If there was a name for abortion that long ago I assume it is no longer known to us now. Despite the many mentions of children in the womb, the many prohibitions and justifications on murder found in scriptures it is simply not prohibited or rejected. Some say the bible is silent on the issue. This is not the case. Abortions are justified under law of the Old Testament. The death of a fetus is addressed not as murder but something akin to property rights.
In the Book of Numbers 5:20-30 We see the law regarding a woman that was unfaithful to her husband requiring an abortion. The culture that existed at the time was one of an extreme oppressive patriarchy. The woman was seen as a possession as was the children. This passage is especially interesting in that it shows the abortion is not the choice of the mother but done by the power of men who rule over her. This is a forced abortion that we see is not only acceptable but demanded and done by a priest.
This was a society where a woman existed to bring a male heir into the world. The rights and power went to only men. So, what we see is that to bear the child of another man would be in conflict with the and patriarchal rights. Abortions were administered to honor the desires of the Man to have his offspring only carried by the woman’s body which was his possession. So, by law abortions were accepted as a form of power and oppression over a woman.
There are other cases in scripture where the unintended termination of a pregnancy by assault of a woman was perceived in the same light as property theft or damage. We move further in scripture to Psalms where it is a blessing to dash babies on rocks. These instances are the closest we see in scripture of directly addressing the topic of abortion. To find the argument most use to oppose abortion we must look to a series of culturally bound assumptions.
The basic premise of the argument against abortion lies in first finding verses that support the idea that ‘life begins at conception.’ This is where It gets sloppy for me. If life begins at conception then the argument is based on the idea that it is never wrong to take a life. This is often not the case for many of the anti-abortion crowd. It is okay for certain justified individuals to take a life. Why is it okay for the under educated Police officer or Marine to take lives and not the Doctor who has much more education in the area of making such decisions? This is why I say I respect the mindset and stance that opposes aggression across the board and chooses the ‘pro-life’ stance but reject the ‘anti-abortion’ stance. I do not take either stance. I look at sexism, hierarchy and oppression for my stance.
The very idea that life begins at conception is one that has changed through the history of the church and religion. It was once accepted that the soul did not enter the body until a set amount of day after conception which differed according to gender. This was not an issue within the early church and throughout scripture. The issue that arose is one that is modern and rises with other issues of a woman having the right to her own body in contrast to the scripture we saw earlier where men maintained dominance over a woman’s body.
Abortion is not a desired in any circumstance. I would be pro-choice which means many more choices than just abortion. As an anarchist I am pro-choice in just about every issue. What are the choices in the case of the issue of abortion and what are the reasons we are looking at it? Furthermore what are they choices pertaining to? The issue is not abortion. The issue at hand is one of sexism and reproductive rights. Abortion should ideally be a very small part if a part at all in this idea.
Women are still subject to the dominance of men. I will get into this much deeper in an upcoming article. In the overall scheme of reproductive rights we are not looking at this baby killing spree the right wing would say is going on. We are looking at a larger picture overall. Ideally no abortion should be necessary. Many churches have a staunch stance against the reproductive rights of women in more areas than just abortion. The Catholic Church specifically opposes all forms of contraceptives. So, to delve into a healthy sexual relationship a woman who obeys the patriarchs of the church becomes a baby machine with no options for intercourse except to procreate and stay home and raise a mans children.
So, the church comes to abstinence as the only answer. Abstinence is the sure way to not get pregnant they say. Well, I hate to burst your bubble but If a woman chooses abstinence it is not an assurance she will not get pregnant. It may be the decision of the one but others may have plans for that woman. This is the presence of male domination. For starters there is rape. She has decided to stay pure but the aggressor has decided otherwise. Often there is a power difference that occurs between women and patriarchs. There is a large amount of sexual abuse within churches and homes that leads to unwanted pregnancies. Who decided that these women should get pregnant? Surely not they. The Patriarchal power that has exploited them made the decision, invaded her body. The male determines the future of the life of the woman.
Abortion is not a goal to strive for. It is something that is not an easy decision for a woman. We have no right exercising our dominance over another human being.
Abortions can be ended by ending the oppressive nature of how society treats women. Abortions will not be ended by taking more control of women.
I will bring to light the great Libertarian and his words on abortion:
Another argument of the anti-abortionists is that the fetus is a living human being, and is therefore entitled to all of the rights of human beings. Very good; let us concede, for purposes of the discussion, that fetuses are human beings—or, more broadly, potential human beings—and are therefore entitled to full human rights. But what humans, we may ask, have the right to be coercive parasites within the body of an unwilling human host? Clearly no born humans have such a right, and therefore, a fortiori, the fetus can have no such right either.
– Murray Rothbard
Now, as I said before I will not battle a utilitarian argument for or against the issue. I do not see it as black or white. I do wish to conclude with a concise re-cap and clarification of my stance.
I am an anarchist. I do not accept any hierarchy, rule or aggression on another. In this I am most sympathetic to the struggle and fight of the feminist to end sexism and see this as a relevant area this occurs. I also acknowledge that even in an anarchist society this will be a point of conflict from time to time. I may not completely agree with but will positively acknowledge the ‘pro-life’ stance that includes all life not just the unborn. I am not for abortion. I am however pro-choice in all things and feel that this discussion has much to be said, but the real issue for me is sexism and patriarchal dominance of one gender over another and reproductive rights of a woman. Abortion is not a ‘good’ or desirable, it is a result of a form of violence and oppression against women.