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Bustle’s guide to arguing with pro-lifers fails on every level

At Bustle, JR Thorpe purports to help readers “argue effectively with some of the most common ways in which people try to deny the importance of abortion access.” Here, we’ll put her tips through the paces and show that their effectiveness leaves much to be desired:

Anybody who says that abortion is dangerous to the mother can just be directed to Marie Stopes’ informative website, where the extremely low risks of surgical and nonsurgical abortions are laid out in great detail for their perusal.

That, by the way, would be the same Marie Stopes that halted its surgical abortions in August after it came out that their staff was inadequately trained, so take their safety assurances with a grain of salt (they resumed in October… before the release of a report on the matter, so who knows what, if any, steps they really took to shape up).

Further, abortion’s vaunted safety (for the mother) flies in the face of evidence that abortion reporting is marred by wildly inconsistent (and sometimes nonexistent) standards for abortion data reporting and misclassification of abortion-related deaths as simply “pregnancy-related,” as well as studies finding that abortion increases risks to the mother’s life.

[The argument] that abortion creates a way to escape responsibility for one’s actions, and converts the serious matter of pregnancy into a disposable problem with no repercussions […] is actually contradicting other pro-life arguments, which argue that abortion is highly traumatic and difficult for the woman’s psyche and body.

Seriously? The vast majority of abortions are expressly sought to escape pregnancy, childbirth, and/or parenthood; the fact that the procedure may inflict physical and mental harm on them—risks their friendly neighborhood Planned Parenthood either neglected to mention or falsely claimed wouldn’t happen—doesn’t contradict that in the slightest.

The reality is that every woman’s experience is different. There are those who find the experience unproblematic, and there are those who face serious challenges at various points in the process, from the choice to have the abortion to finding supportive people during and after the procedure. Abortion, whether it’s done via a pill or with a surgical procedure, is not regarded flippantly, or as a way to avoid more complicated responsibilities. It is, in and of itself, often a complicated and heavy responsibility. Anybody who doubts that should check out the archives of the #shoutyourabortion hashtag on Twitter, which encompassed the vast breadth of reactions experienced by real women who’ve had the procedure.

Translation: just take my word for it. Read some anecdotes, as if contrary anecdotes don’t exist—to say nothing of the fact that Thorpe seems to have forgotten what argument she was even responding to here. Women have varying reactions to their abortions, therefore they weren’t trying to escape something? Huh?

[The argument] that access to abortion makes girls and women more sexually active, which is a bad thing […] is largely rooted in the notion that female sexuality is somehow corrupting and dangerous. The notion of the only acceptable female as either virginal or sexually submissive to her husband isn’t just outdated; it’s rampantly unrealistic and anti-feminist.

Yet again, we see that pro-aborts’ preferred method for “refuting” pro-life arguments is to swap them out for arguments that aren’t ours. “Female sexuality is corrupting”? “The only acceptable female is virginal or submissive”? Please, if a pro-lifer saying anything of the kind actually exists, by all means show us.

As for our actual argument, that behavior which increases risks of unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and mental or emotional anguish might not be the greatest thing in the world for either sex, Thorpe helpfully illustrates the pro-abortion mindset by questioning “the assumption that ‘promiscuity’ is itself a bad thing.”

The next “anti-abortion argument” Thorpe sets up to knock down is the idea of abortion as a “contraceptive alternative,” that “instead of using contraceptive methods to prevent conception, like condoms, the pill, or IUDs, they’d prefer to have unprotected sex and then use abortion to ‘deal with it’ as an alternative.”

She responds by citing statistics showing that most women primarily rely on contraception to prevent pregnancy, only resorting to abortion if it fails or they can’t access it…which is all well and good, but another straw man, as pro-lifers don’t suggest women consciously rely on abortion as their first resort.

Even so, it’s worth noting that while “abortion as contraception alternative” may not be the norm, it isn’t unheard of. Some pro-aborts openly champion the idea, and praise women who have nine or more abortions. 44% of abortions are repeats, with 20% being a woman’s third or more.

Next, in response to the argument, “isn’t it a better idea to carry a child to term and then give it up to those who want it, rather than aborting it,” Thorpe first points out several of the problems with the US adoption system that make matching children to parents difficult. However, these are reasons why we should be talking about ways to reform adoption, not proof that the system is so hopeless that we should kill children instead.

Besides, if the adoption system is such a mess, then shouldn’t Thorpe be more concerned about Planned Parenthood actively discouraging adoption, or its adoption referrals amounting to less than one percent of its abortions (160 abortions for every one adoption referral)?

She also notes that while adoption gets someone out of parenthood, it doesn’t help them avoid pregnancy or childbirth. True… but pro-lifers don’t cite it as an answer to pregnancy. It’s simply meant to answer objections about not being ready to raise children.

Finally, Thorpe takes aim at the argument that abortion allows men to exploit women:

The biggest response to this is that women are indisputably in charge of the decision to have an abortion the vast majority of the time. The Guttmacher Institute surveyed 1,209 patients at American abortion providers, with in-depth interviews with 38 women, to provide a comprehensive overview of the reasons women sought abortions […] Fewer than one percent of the respondents said they were doing it because their partner or their parents wanted them to.

The Guttmacher Institute’s findings were favorable to abortion? Who could have guessed?

A developing unborn child

A developing preborn child

Of course, other studies have found that women report some sort of pressure in more than half of abortions. There are also documented cases of physical threats and financial coercion to abort, not to mention an abundance of “bro-choice” men who openly advocate abortion as an escape from getting tied down to the women they use for sex.

Thorpe closes out by noting that there are also women pressured into pregnancy by their partners… as if that fact somehow negates the existence of bro-choicers. Pro-lifers are willing to condemn anyone who uses violence, influence, or intimidation to pressure anyone into or out of a pregnancy. Care to join us, JR Thorpe?

The ultimate failure of this guide, of course, is what it doesn’t mention.

Even if every one of Thorpe’s points were correct, none of them address the basic, undeniable, essential fact that she’s talking about killing children. But from the pro-abortion perspective, it’s just as well that she ignored the only argument that really matters—try as they might, no debate guide could ever truly overcome it.

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