Over here at the AbortionGang we recently came across a tumblr post about the “baby vs. fetus” debate that ends with the following:
So while we are wont to scream so loudly that a fetus is not a baby and therefore it is not murder for the person carrying them to decide for themselves if they wish to continue to do so or not – and I agree with this – could we take a moment to realize that saying they are not babies also erases the experience of people who miscarry and are grieving over their loss(es)?
I think this is extremely important and something all feminists and pro-choicers should consider.
As the anti-choicers continue to propose and pass antichoice legislation, post racist, anti-choice billboards and try to send women to jail for having abortions, I believe the political pro-choice stance and the personal abortion stories are becoming more and more distant. Listening and considering the real lives of women who have abortions and women who deal with fetal loss will help us stay grounded against the insanity of the anti-choice position.
Legally, fetuses are not infants, are not considered persons, and thus, having an abortion is not murder. But we must remember, the personal is different from the legal. Pregnancy is different for every single woman- and one woman may experience multiple pregnancies in very different ways. A woman may consider her fetus to be ababy, or already a person, because she plans to carry to term. Another woman may consider her fetus to be a baby even though she is planning to have an abortion. Those feelings and beliefs are normal, valid, and should be perfectly acceptable.
Using the term “baby” doesn’t hurt the pro-choice position at all. If a woman believes that abortion is the best option for her baby, then we should support her in her choice.** It does us no good to get into a battle over the word (the same applies if she wants to carry her fetus to term).
On the other end of the spectrum are women who have lost pregnancies, both wanted and unwanted, planned and unplanned, through miscarriage. Just as with abortion, some women may feel relieved and think of the fetus as just a fetus. Other women may feel they lost a member of their family. None of these feelings hurt the pro-choice position, and all should be taken into consideration when we’re writing, blogging, speaking and protesting.
I always try to make an effort to let the woman in question decide what type of language will be used, and allow her feelings to control the situation instead of mine. For her, my opinion on the baby vs. fetus debate isn’t relevant. Making sure she feels loved and supported is most important.
**This does not only apply to women terminating wanted pregnancies due to fetal abnormalities.