Published on The Daily Femme – Monday, Nov. 22, 2010
Contributed by Annamarya
I never had an abortion, nor have I ever gotten pregnant, but I know if I were to conceive at this point in my life, that would be the path I’d take. It’s a decision I made for three reasons: 1. I’m not emotionally stable enough to raise a child; 2. I’m not financially stable enough to keep a child; and 3. If I were put my child up for adoption, there’s no guarantee a well-adjusted family will adopt them or that they would even be adopted (according to the US Department of Health & Human Services, there are over 115,000 children in foster care waiting for adoption). If I were to have a child, I want to be the one to provide them with a wonderful, beautiful life and I know I can’t do that now.
Whether or not you agree with me doesn’t matter. The fact is it’s my body and my decision and despite what lawmakers believe, I should have rights to mywomb. I should have the right to decide whether or not a baby grows inside me. Not someone with no qualms about sending a living pig to slaughter so they could have their Sunday night meal but me–the owner of said womb.
That’s why I find Birthornot.com so absolutely dumbfounding. If you haven’t heard about it yet, the recently launched site is run by Pete and Alisha Arnold, a married Minnesota couple who, after publishing a sonogram of their 17-weeks-old fetus, put up whether or not they should seek an abortion for online public vote, all the while keeping visitors updated on their pregnancy progress and feelings as they “struggle to make this decision.” According to The Frisky, 30-year-old Alisha told local paper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that she’s experienced three miscarriage in the past and wasn’t sure if she was ready to have a child, so they need “help deciding whether to carry this pregnancy to term” (according to the couple, the last legal day they can abort is December 9, so December 7 is the last voting day). On Birthornot.com’s About page, they write:
Voting is such an integral part of the American identity. We vote on everything. We vote on things ranging from the best singer on American Idol to who the next leader of the free world will be. Wouldn’t it be nice to voice your opinion and have it actually make a difference in the real world? Why not vote on whether to continue or abort an actual pregnancy? Your vote can help a real couple to make a decision on this issue.
There’s talk that BirthorNot.com is actually an anti-choice publicity stunt.Gawker first broke that theory, with blogs DoubleX and Ministry of Truth backing it up through some investigative work. But whether or not it’s a prank doesn’t concern me. Either way you slice it, Birthornot.com is an undeniably crass, disrespectful and unproductive way of discussing something as deeply personal as abortion. Judging just by the comments alone, the site lacks an intelligible discourse on the topic and instead offers a shouting match of opposing opinions that doesn’t lead to any common, rational ground. If this site is indeed legitimate, the Arnolds will in no way find solace in what other people have to say, just a lot more confusion and despair. And if it’s a hoax, I am not sure what the anti-choicers are trying to achieve. Is it a study to gather anti-choice statistics? By showcasing weekly sonograms, is it meant to make people rethink their pro-choice position, similar to the intended effect on meat-eaters of pamphlets on ending animal cruelty? What is the point?
More importantly, as Jessica Wakeman points out on The Frisky, turning abortion into something so black and white as a “yes or no” vote is terribly offensive. It’s not the same as picking out a work outfit and treating it as such disregards the multitude of reasons why women choose abortion and the difficulty some face in making that choice. Sure, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t ask for advice–sometimes hearing different insightful and educated opinions helps making the right decision for yourself easier–but that advice should come from trained, unbiased medical professionals, not total strangers, especially since those total strangers have theirs–not your–best interests at heart.