July 9th 2013

On Valuing Women

By MarieAlena Castle

[Letter to the Minneapolis Star Tribune]

It’s disturbing that there is even a controversy over abortion. Aren’t women valued at all? They are society’s child bearers, so you’d think that would count for something and they would get decent treatment. But it doesn’t work that way, and so they are subjected to the endless legislative brutality we’ve seen in these anti-abortion laws.


Roe v. Wade was a bad ruling because it assumed what societies have always and everywhere assumed – that women are something of a public utility to be controlled and regulated because they are the community’s breeding stock. The Supreme Court should have dismissed Roe v. Wade on the basis that abortion is not the government’s business; it is a medical matter involving a woman’s bodily functions to be resolved between the woman and her doctor. By creating a totally unnecessary regulatory structure, the Court opened the door to all the modifications, restrictions and bureaucratic hoops to jump through that regulations invite, and that we have today, with more on the way.


Let’s make one thing clear: Abortion never kills a baby – it only keeps a baby from forming by stopping the gestational process. It takes time for the “ingredients” to come together and that doesn’t happen until sometime in the third trimester. By then, we are dealing almost always with a truly wanted baby, so if something goes wrong it is heartbreaking for the parents. If the fetus has to be removed, it is a serious medical procedure for women, certainly not something a legislature is equipped to deal with – or public opinion polls for that matter.


Why is abortion anyone’s business? What would happen if women were valued and respected, with no laws regarding abortion imposed on them? Women would terminate pregnancies that were disastrous for them as the situation required – almost all during the first trimester, some in the second trimester for medical reasons, and very rarely in the third trimester for severe medical reasons.


What humanitarian reasons exist for the punitive, patriarchal restrictions we have now? The fetus neither knows nor cares. A few women may regret their abortions, but they should take this up with the clergy who guilt-tripped them, not their legislators. As for society, far more damage is done in terms of social welfare costs and dysfunctional families by prohibiting abortion than by allowing it. Only abortion for sex selection is socially harmful when it is done to avoid having girl children in societies such as ours that devalue and mistreat women. But the problem is patriarchal sexism and the solution must address that.

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