Trying Not to Erase Grief: Miscarriage and Abortion

1 Jul

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.

8 Responses to “Trying Not to Erase Grief: Miscarriage and Abortion”

  1. Dee July 6, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    I saw someone re-blog the original Tumblr post you linked, with the addition:
    “Keeping your fetus as a pro choice independent womyn has become taboo. Abortion has become a way to show your politics. I’ve supported many a friend who has had one and kept my mouth shut about their choice, but the second you choose to view your fetus as a baby you have broken the code! You are no longer allowed in the pro choice circle.”
    from: http://jadedfucker.tumblr.com/post/6875562159

    To this, I say: Bullshit!!

    I have never met a prochoice woman who meets a fellow, pregnant prochoice woman and says, “Did you just call that thing a baby? How DARE you!!? Abort that FETUS right away!” That this was posted by a prochoice woman is mindboggling, considering this is one of the most pervasive antichoice stereotypes about us. Every single prochoice woman I’ve met, every single one, celebrates/respects/supports the choices of fellow women, whether it be to keep or terminate the pregnancy.

  2. Steph L July 11, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    No matter what you believe about abortion, “fetus” is the correct medical term for the developmental stage between embryo and birth.

    The way I see it, this is all a pointless argument over semantics.

  3. aMuseandAngels March 6, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    Neonate is also the medical term- no matter what you believe. No matter what you call he/she/it is what he/she/it is. “Baby” is as valid and accurate as zygote, embryo,fetus or neonate.

    Dehumanizing the human unborn offspring should not be a part of the debate at all. It is intellectually dishonest and demeaning to women.

    Like the author said, women abort their “babies” too. The truth is yes- you are pregnant with your son or daughter. The truth is, accepting this is not actually the end of the debate. Abortion isn’t practiced because “it’s not a baby”. Of course it is. It’s practiced because in this society, women require a way to escape motherhood.

    Please be sensitive to the loss of the mother who lost her son or daughter in a miscarried wanted pregnancy. Do not smugly assume there was no son or daughter there. She will know, that to you, she has lost an imagined child, a potential child- not a real one. She needs you to honor that her child- not just her feelings of loss- was real.

    Accepting the nature of the unborn doesn’t actually hurt the prochoice position either.

  4. Steph L March 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    What’s “dehumanizing” about medical terminology? It doesn’t make a difference to me if you use “fetus” “neonate” or “baby.” Knock yourself out. But I still find semantics as a pointless base for argument.

  5. aMuseandAngels March 10, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    Steph L- Nothing, but the intent. fetus/baby, neonate/baby, potato,puhtahto.

    The problem is when people tell legislators: “It’s NOT a baby yet ,it’s just fetus.”, they also tell that to women who have lost their wanted son or daughter, their baby, to miscarriage or stillbirth. And what they hear is that they didn’t lose an actual son or daughter, but only a potential one. If they grieve as a mother, not a potential mother, their grief has been called dillusional, not based on reality.

    I agree semantics are a pointless base for arguments. It’s the meaning behind the words that matter. I’m personally quite comfortable with interchanging medical with colloquial terms. Taking “fetus” back.

  6. johanna March 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    I was unsure whether i wanted to have the abortion or keep it, you never understand the sensitivity of the situation until u are in it. I went to eastside gynecology, they were aware that i wasnt sure what to do and actually showed me compasion, instead of just trying to persuade me to have the abortion. The doctor spent time talking to me, i felt like he actually listened instead of trying to rush me out. I decided to have the vacuum aspiration and was so relieved the procedure went better than expected, beautiful office, friendly staff, and very sanitized. Anyone reading this can feel free to email me if they need help with such a difficult time. http://www.eastsidegynecology.com

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Killing Babies is NOT Acceptable! | Foundation Life - July 5, 2011

    […] recent Abortion Gang post, was based on, and led me to, a Tumblr post regarding the “a fetus is not a baby” […]

  2. Logical Inconsistencies in light of Casey Anthony Case « Box of Scraps - July 8, 2011

    […] above) and those who lose their babies to complications like miscarriages, one pro-choice blogger writes: Legally, fetuses are not infants, are not considered persons, and thus, having an abortion is not […]

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