I was reading I used to be a pro-life Republican over on HAY LADIES! and wouldn’t you know it, an anti-choice troll came trundling up. I was tempted to take it all ’04 Extended Discussion on their ass, but I decided I’d rather write a blog post—though do check it out if you have a chance; it’s hilarious. The “live with the natural consequences of your actions” bit from the pro-forced birth brigade really chunks my carrot. See, this is something I could take apart in debate when I was seven, and I did. Something that is a natural consequence of your actions happens immediately after you take an action, but it breaks into several possibilities after that—because after the initial effect, you have choices.
Pregnancy can be a consequence of PIV, but it doesn’t follow that childbirth falls into the same line of “natural consequences.” As soon as it falls out of the range of “immediately afterwards,” there are several things that can happen.
If you get pregnant, there are a bunch of things that could happen:
a) You have a spontaneous abortion—i.e. a miscarriage, which happens in just over half of all pregnancies. Usually this occurs before you even know you’re pregnant.
b) You have an elective abortion—i.e. you take medication, herbs or another form of action that will terminate the pregnancy.
c) You give birth—mind, even then there’s no guarantee of live birth.
d) You die.
It’s obvious that children are not this bizarre, unavoidable consequence of sex because there are things that can happen where even if you do get pregnant you don’t give birth. (And human conception rates are some of the lowest in the animal world—you have a vanishingly small chance of a fertilized egg successfully implanting in the first place. So the idea that sex = pregnancy is sketchy in the first place.) That would basically mean that fetuses have fucking super-powers, and for the love of sweet potatoes, they don’t even have half-functional brains until the twenty-fourth week!
So… yes. Pregnancy? Possible consequence of PIV that you cannot avoid unless you have no ovaries—because you can’t will yourself not to get pregnant, you have no control over that. Childbirth? Possible consequence of deliberately doing nothing about being pregnant.
This is where it gets fucking obvious, especially to my seven-year-old self. Since you can do something about being pregnant, childbirth isn’t an “inevitable natural consequence” of PIV. If you have the motivation to avoid childbirth (and women have, for like, ever), then the only thing that would prevent you is… someone else enforcing a consequence upon you.
Which makes childbirth in the view of not wanting to be pregnant an absolutely unnatural occurrence. Women have, after all, been using herbal abortions for eons—abortifacents exist wherever plants grow. Green papaya, angelica root, black and blue cohosh, wild yam, wild carrot seed, cedarwood oil and then some are all natural abortifacents—ones which also have an exceedingly low chance of killing you, provided you’re not consuming dairy. (Dairy and abortifacent plants cause severe kidney and liver problems.)
So, in the words of a seven-year-old, you’re wrong. Those aren’t the consequences to my actions; they’re the consequences you want to enforce on me because you don’t want me to take those actions, ever.
And let me point out: just because something is a natural consequence does not mean you have to or should let it happen—natural consequences happen every single day that we try our hardest to stop. The natural consequence of saying something offensive to my face is getting your nose introduced to my elbow; the natural consequence of eating dairy is (among other things) multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and breast cancer, but holy shit do people freak out about all those things! The natural consequence of trying to rape someone is getting your ass killed, but that’s just misandrist to say so.
Something that is natural is, at its very deepest heart, neutral. Death is natural; it’s also neutral, only good or bad because of extant circumstances. Childbirth is natural; it’s also neutral, only good or bad because of extant circumstances. Sneezing is natural, as is pissing and… well, y’know.
Something can be unnatural and also neutral, but a lot of the time it isn’t. Rape is not natural; we learned it via animal agriculture, which looked an awful lot like rape to us even if it didn’t to the animals themselves. Forced birth is the narrative of that oppression—that even if you experience your life, you have no right to your body: others can manipulate it and exploit it regardless of… well, you. And you become property—”saved” from death only to be used, over and over and fucking over again. Because death would be a waste of an incubator.
Fundamentally, the reason I find this “pro-life” shit so fucking evil is that it is the explicit belief that death is unacceptable, but torture is perfectly fine. Remember that. Death is natural. No matter what, death happens when life does; it is inevitable. But the pro-forced birth brigade doesn’t seem so hot on natural things when it starts threatening their ideology of “life at the cost of everything that makes life worth living.”