Rebecca Traister attempts to come off as some authority on women, feminism, and the reality of abortion in her New Republic piece entitled “Let’s Just Say It: Women Matter More Than Fetuses Do.” She fails at this task.
She opens her piece by commenting on how she woke up one day in September and realized the implications of the fact that she was 24 weeks pregnant—it meant she had “lost one of the most important tools available to women: the ability to exert control over what’s going on inside my uterus.” Despite the fact that she is carrying a baby she and her husband planned, she comes off as pushy and dramatic. Not too long ago we would chide chauvinistic men who seemed to think they had a right to dictate what happened because they possessed male genitalia. Traister sounds like the female version of that personality, asserting she should have all the control, always, simply because she possesses lady parts.
She says as much when she discusses how all the power should belong to her:
“Public discussion of abortion has come to inexorably privilege fetal life over female life. The imaginary futures—the ‘personhoods’—of the unborn have taken moral precedence over the adult women in whose bodies they grow.”
And they should take moral precedence, as it’s universally regarded as immoral to kill an innocent person. It’s difficult to fathom how Traister can deny that a fetus is a person when her own fetus has a heartbeat and much, much more.
While 24 weeks is not full term, many babies born at 24 weeks have gone on to live full and healthy lives. Babycenter describes 24 week fetal development and shows the reality of life at 24 weeks. Traister seems to lament her loss of a choice to kill a human being – with lungs and a brain and fingerprints and unique cells – more than she celebrates the baby she planned.
But even as she sits 24 weeks pregnant, with a live baby inside her, she argues that abortions are not about the babies.
“And so we need to make it clear that abortions are not about fetuses or embryos. Nor are they about babies, except insofar as they enable women to make sound decisions about if or when to have them. They’re about women: their choices, health, and their own moral value. It might sound far-fetched to suggest that the public debate about reproduction could ever sound this sensible. But there have been times in our history when it did—even when (and sometimes because) women had far fewer rights and freedoms than they do today.”
There it is. It doesn’t matter who lives and dies if a woman gets what she wants. Really, there’s no difference in this and any other “choice” people want to make. We don’t get to eliminate people we don’t want because we, ourselves, don’t regard them as such. But Traister hails abortion as downright admirable:
“This is certainly true within my own family. My paternal grandmother had an abortion when she and my grandfather accidentally conceived during the Depression. ‘She felt that bringing a baby into that world was just not conscionable,’ her daughter, my aunt, recently told me. ‘So she didn’t.’”
It’s not just her own family she admires for killing their babies. She writes about a legislator too:
“They can take a cue from the Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who in 2013 testified to her colleagues that she was the only one of seven sisters not to have had a baby in her teens. Why? ‘Because at sixteen, I got an abortion,’ Flores said, adding, ‘I don’t regret it because I am here making a difference.’”
The reasoning that, because she is making a difference in the legislature, somehow her abortion is perfectly fine, is fallacious. One is not related to the other. It’s truly unconscionable to celebrate killing a baby as a herald of feminism and choice.
Trasiter tries to argue for the rightness of abortion, but her ethos falls as she proves instead that behind her abortion, there is a selfish person who regards some humanity as having more value than others.