I have been listening and reading some of the things people have said about the change in law since last Friday’s Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. And listening to my daughter, whom I love, and who will live with this longer than I will.
I thought these articles were worth reading:
- Erica Bachiochi, “After Roe v. Wade and Dobbs v. Jackson”
- Caitlin Flanagan, “The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate”
- Adam Kotsko, “When the worst people in the world keep winning”
They do not all agree.
No one I’ve heard recently has said this:
Almost the entire debate about abortion seems to take place against the background of the premise that pregnancy is about housing, rather than about making.
The premise that what a woman does in pregnancy is provide space, rather than work, with her whole life and body, at the making of another whole life and body.
The premise that a pregnant woman is a container, for another person, rather than herself a person actively engaged in a labor of creative love, which will, if she keeps at it long enough and can keep at it well enough, finally result in the creation of an entirely novel other person.
That is, we think of the pregnant woman as more like a loft than like an artist.
Indeed, as a society, we are still mostly unable to see a woman’s pregnant body as anything other than … dirt. Soil, into which a seed gets dropped, and then grows, no real thanks to the soil; it might as well be hydroponic growth medium, or whatever. We think everything needed is already in that seed. With the consequence that as a society, we are able to treat women as if they are people – that is, more or less as minds that travel around in bodies – much of the time. Until those bodies turn back into soil, when they become pregnant. Because when you live in that kind of body, that kind of soil, space, nature, premium real estate, sometimes you just have to share it with another person who needs it. So, I think, the unthought thinking goes.
In short, almost the entire diabolical debate on abortion as it takes place in this country seems to be based on a fundamentally Aristotelian account of human reproduction, in which there’s a fully-formed person, who gets dropped into a passive womb, and then sits there and grows like a sponge toy in water or a bun in an oven for the appropriate amount of time. We know, about as well as we know anything, that this account is erroneous. We keep thinking with it anyway.
If we perceived the pregnant woman as an artist, actively engaged in the creation of a human person whom she is knitting together in her womb, we would be thinking differently about this entire issue.
To be able to perceive the pregnant woman as an artist, who has a legitimate authorial right to all her creative endeavors, and to how fully she will invest herself in any one of those, we would have to be living in a world that takes women and their creative contributions, of all kinds, seriously as human endeavors. We would have to be thinking differently about nature, and about bodies, and about their role in what it means to be human, and creative.
We still have a lot of work to do, to make a world like that to live in.
Image: “Young Mother Sewing,” Mary Cassatt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons