Every day, there is more information available related to reproductive justice and women’s issues. As each day goes by, it seems to me that the topic of abortion becomes more and more complex. There are bills, studies, rallies and personal stories- all pulling the edges of black and white closer together, creating more and more gray all the time. Abortion is a diverse issue with many different sides.
But then, sometimes I get pulled back to the basics. I realize not everyone has been a part of the discussion as long as I have, and others have been a part of the discussion even longer than I have. Every now and then, we all need a reminder of the basics. So I thought I would go ahead and clarify something for everyone- the issue of abortion as birth control.
A lot of anti-choicers, and far too many pro-choicers, say they are against women “using abortion as birth control.” This statement confuses me, though. See, there are two ways to define “birth control.” First, the literal meaning: something that controls birth. The second meaning, which seems much more popular: a method of contraception.
In terms of the literal meaning, of course abortion is a way to control birth by preventing it from happening. Most people who talk about abortion as birth control, however, are not referring to the literal meaning. Most people are actually trying to say that women use abortion as a method of contraception. The only problem is that this is impossible. Contraceptives are defined as “an agent or device intended to prevent conception; capable of preventing conception or impregnation.” An abortion is only performed after pregnancy has already started. You literally could not prevent conception by having an abortion.
When people say they’re against women using “abortion as birth control,” what they really mean is women who have abortions for reasons they don’t personally find acceptable. People use this phrase to shame women who they feel do not show the appropriate amount of sadness or guilt about having an abortion. And that needs to stop.
Pro-choicers who say “I’m okay with abortion as long as it’s not used as birth control” need to reclaim their language. Stop using anti-choice language that punishes women who choose to have their own feelings instead of feeling what other people tell them to feel. Realize that there is not a single woman who has an abortion “as birth control.” Listen to the stories of women, and trust them to use abortion as they need to.