Maggie Koerth-Baker describes a heartbreaking situation in which the fetus she tried desperately to conceive has a chromosomal abnormality and is going to die. Maggie considers whether or not to have an abortion, as opposed to waiting around to miscarry. She points out that many people who are against abortion in general are less likely to be against abortion in her particular circumstances, and suggests this is because her abortion is not considered elective.
However, as Maggie explains in some detail, her abortion actually is elective–she has options to weigh and a choice to make. Maggie concludes,
Let me be clear. I have options. It’s just that they all suck. That’s kind of how bad news related to pregnancy works…There is no universal good option. There is no universal bad option. But for each individual there is an option that is the least bad. Here is why I am pro-choice. If someone has to make a decision and the best they can hope for is the least-bad option, I don’t believe I have any business making that choice for them.My abortion is not a good abortion. It’s just an abortion. And there’s no reason to treat the decision I have to make any differently than the decisions made by any other woman.
But, like many pro-choicers, Maggie’s thought process omits a crucial part of the equation: the life of the fetus.
Maggie’s abortion isn’t a “good” abortion because it’s “not elective.” Maggie’s abortion is seen differently because the fetus is going to die in either case. Continuing the pregnancy would protect no one; it would just prolong emotionally painful circumstances and delay the inevitable. This is, of course, in sharp contrast to most abortions, which are performed on healthy fetuses that would otherwise live.
I can understand how a woman with an unwanted pregnancy would feel all of her options suck. But the only way to evaluate all options as having equal suckage is to consider how the options affect the woman alone. Once the options are considered in light of how they affect the fetus as well, we see there actually are some slight differences between the options. Say, for example, life and death.