This Needs to Be Said


By Amy Petty

This needs to be said.

Women and girls do not use abortion as birth control. They don’t. Yes, yes, I know, every woman and her dog personally knows That Girl/Woman who does. Sorry, I don’t believe you. Even if you’re a friend, I just don’t believe you. That entire thought process is predicated on the belief that women are foolish, capricious creatures. Even if you don’t consciously dislike women, it is an inherently misogynistic belief.

If a woman is “using abortion as birth control” then there is an actual reason for that quite beyond her being stupid or irresponsible or lazy. Maybe she is in a relationship where her partner refuses to allow for contraceptives. Maybe she lives in a town where she can’t sneeze without everyone knowing her business. Maybe she lives in an area where the only contraceptives available are ones she or her partner can’t use. Maybe she’s been indoctrinated to believe that contraception is evil or just doesn’t work. There’s a reason. It may be due to any number of factors–and yes, some of those factors may well be rooted in simple ignorance–but there’s a reason, and it’s not because she wants to get an abortion for the lolz. Think about that for a moment: does it make sense to you that a woman (or girl) would prefer to get an abortion over preventing pregnancy in the first place?

There’s a reason. It doesn’t matter what that reason is, or whether you think it is legitimate. There’s a reason.

Saying “I’m pro-choice but I hate it when women use abortion as birth control,” is helpful only for demonstrating that you aren’t nearly as pro-choice, or as progressive, as you think you are. It’s just as judgmental, and just as rooted in misogyny, as slut shaming or any other means intended to control women’s behavior. Women in this situation, pregnant when they don’t want to be, don’t use abortion as birth control, they use it to end a pregnancy that, for WHATEVER reason, they were unable to prevent by other means.

Taking that position isn’t pro-choice. It’s making your position palatable for the anti-choice crowd while still maintaining the facade of being pro-choice. It’s the reproductive edition of respectability politics.

Before you go asking things like “well if she can’t do that, then how can she do this,” or “but in that case she should just do x,” stop and think for a minute that the only person who should be doing anything is you, because you’re being judgmental and sanctimonious and you should probably stop that.

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