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Devaluing something that you perceive others to over value is just as bad.
It is a fetus, that given the opportunity will grow into a baby. Nothing more, nothing less. Stop calling the fetus a parasite. You do nothing to further your cause.
Oooh! You know, I’ve had this lingering in my drafts, needing some finishing touches, and then what comes up on my dash? prolifehypocrisy reblogging someone using the exact argument I’m debunking! So without further ado, my original post, tailored a bit here as a response:
One of the most disingenuous arguments I’ve ever heard is the idea that “a fetus, given the opportunity, will grow into a baby” or “a fertilized egg, unmolested, will become a baby.”
This is simply not true- human fertilized eggs are not like avian and reptilian eggs. We don’t simply deposit them in a safe spot and presto! you’ve got babies after a suitable period of incubation. (Which itself is rare and limited to few species, like turtles; most animals that lay eggs do incubate them or intermittently attend to them even when they use warm sand as an incubator).
Human pregnancies require a womb and a plethora of hormones and nutrients in order to gestate. An embryo in a petri dish will not become a baby. To say that a fertilized egg or fetus automatically becomes a baby is to either be woefully ignorant, or to believe that a woman is nothing more than warm sand, not a person, but literally an incubator.
The “fertilized egg, unmolested, will become a baby” is not an original argument, but rather, a response. It has long been a tenet of anti-choice rhetoric that a fertilized egg represents potential life (well, plenty of anti-choicers do not even use “potential” as a qualifier, so I suppose it’s the more moderate folks who soften their tone in that way). Of course, this argument is somewhat weak- potential life is not only found in blastocysts and embryos and fetuses, but also in sperm and ova. After all, all of the above require something (or many things) in order to continue their development from potential to realization- sperm need an ovum, an ovum needs sperm, a blastocyst, embryo, and fetus all need a uterus in which to gestate, and the aforementioned hormones and nutrients. If they all represent potential life, and destruction of potential life is anathema, this certainly puts male masturbation, nocturnal emissions, menstruation, and all forms of birth control in a suddenly more sinister light.*
And so, because of this conundrum, the anti-choice response has been to clarify their position: “potential life” must refer to a fertilized egg, a blastocyst, a zygote, an embryo, a fetus. Talking about this “potential life” while referencing the pregnant people never sounds good- after all, in comparing “potential life” to actual life, most people understand that the latter deserves more consideration. Reality trumps potential. And therefore, for your argument to be effective, you must remove women/folks with uteri from the equation altogether. Don’t even mention them- and maybe nobody will have to think through what forcible pregnancy actually means for the person who will be forced to remain pregnant. That is how you arrive at the statement “a fetus, given the opportunity, will grow into a baby”, even though it’s missing that huge, vital piece of what human reproduction entails.
Oh, and as far as comparing the fetus to a parasite- it’s the only metaphor that works. Every anti-choicer seems to try to compare abortion to something else. It’s like murder! It’s like killing your two-year old kid! It’s like euthanizing someone in a vegetative state! But the fact remains that there is nothing like abortion except for the parasite/host model. That is the only example of a person who has a separate, unique organism inside his or her body. Does it sound shitty? You betcha. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Parasites are creatures inside your body that you do not want there- so if a woman is experiencing an unwanted pregnancy, her fetus is in essence a parasite. A creature who lives inside your body that you do want there, even if it takes something from you, is engaging in a symbiotic relationship- ergo the fetus of a wanted pregnancy is in essence a symbiont.
I don’t typically use the “parasite” argument, but if someone tries to create a false equivalency between abortion and some other situation that doesn’t fit, you bet I will invoke the fetus-as-parasite argument, because it really is the only comparison that works.
* Don’t be so quick to protest this as ludicrous; religious folks on the extreme ends have often believed attempted procreation to be mandatory. One interpretation of the Old Testament story of Onan is that it demonstrates that God viewed the failure of sperm to connect with ova as tantamount to not allowing a child to come into the world. Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae states: “Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. So some birth contraceptions aren’t as good as other ways Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.
Remember how once upon a time in America, white people in the South used to own black people and treat them like chattel? This horrible event- known as slavery- included the black men and women being forced to live inside of the white folks. The slaves couldn’t do anything- being uncomfortably squished inside of the white folks’ bodies, they didn’t have much choice; you can’t work the fields, pick cotton, cook, or clean when you’re housed in someone’s abdominal cavity.
This calls to mind our current situation today, where the ones doing the unpaid, forced manual labor is actually fetuses. Harrowing, indeed, to see them toiling out there, being treated liked property.
If that describes the world, the comparison of slaves to fetuses is fine. If you live in the real world and that isn’t the case at all, THEN STOP COMPARING FETUSES TO SLAVES.
I don’t mind people who hold the belief that a fertilized egg, a zygote, an embryo, and a fetus are people from the moment of conception, but I really hope that the same people who hold those beliefs can also realize the ludicrousness of this argument (not to mention the racial insensitivity and co-opting of civil rights as mentioned in the article).
I mean, honestly. What. The. Fuck.
I hate bringing up the whole “parasite” argument, because I do think it’s pretty awful, but it’s stuff like this that really makes me want to say “Fine, you think it’s a person with the right to life? Well, right now it’s trespassing on my body so I’m gonna pull the sucker off and you can have it.” Because seriously, if anybody is a slave in this scenario (a comparison I wouldn’t use in the first place), it’s the woman. The government has never forced private citizens to care and provide for other private citizens, and they’re more than happy to take those for whom you cannot do so, either forcibly (Child and Adult Protection Services, foster care) or willingly (Child Drop Off centers, orphanages).
I am not an incubator. If you want, take the thing out of me and put it in your own goddamned incubator, because the women wanting abortions don’t want these “slaves”, as you call them. And masters not wanting their slaves is a really shitty example of slavery, Colorado.