[Trigger warning: rape, abuse, torture, coercion, graphic medical descriptions and drawings] Pro-choice or “pro-life,” it’s hard to deny that forced pregnancy and childbirth are torture.
I’ve gone into this before, but apparently people still don’t get it, so here we go again.
So many anti-choicers talk about pregnancy as if it’s some walk in the park. They are, in a word, wrong. Completely wrong. So completely wrong that I’m actually, honestly shocked I need to explain this to them.
Pregnancy itself is one of the most difficult things a human being can go through. For nine months, you deal with what’s essentially a parasite feeding off your body’s every resource. This causes some downright terrifying side effects. For instance, hyperemesis gravidarum, or extreme morning sickness. Let’s dispel a common myth about this: it’s not just early on in pregnancy. It can occur throughout the entire pregnancy.
In movies like Knocked Up, vomiting is a quick and tidy signal that the lady in question has a bun in the oven. Once she realizes what’s going on, the nausea magically disappears, and our mother-to-be gets on with her wacky life crisis, right?
Anyone who’s ever had a killer hangover or suffered through a raging flu has experienced the glory of constant nausea. Not just the throw-up-and-get-it-over-with kind of sick, the kind where everything that goes down comes back up in the form of Satanic bile. Everything. Every meal, every snack, even every sip of water or swallow of saliva. Even when you don’t eat, you’re treated to the dry heaves and the burps. You’re so broken-down that all you want to do is go to bed and/or die.
Now, picture getting that sick after every meal of every day for nine solid months. Oh, and another thing — picture that as the months progress, a rib-crushing basketball grows under your shirt, making your hourly face-down trips to the toilet an exercise in torture. Also, just for funsies, imagine you’re also experiencing a host of other ailments, like heartburn, backaches, random bloody noses, loss of bladder control and a wicked case of the furious farts. If you can imagine all that, you’ve got hyperemesis gravidarum down pat.
And that’s not all, not by any stretch of the imagination. How about “pregnancy tumors”?
Sometimes a large lump with deep red pinpoint markings on it forms on inflamed gum tissue, usually near the upper gum line. The red lump glistens, may bleed and crust over, and can make eating and speaking difficult and cause discomfort. These growths are called pregnancy tumors and can occur at any time during the course of pregnancy, though they usually occur during the second trimester.
Oh! Diastasis recti! That’s where your abdominal muscles do this:
[Image: a medical diagram of Diastasis Recti. The left shows a normal abdominal wall, and the right shows an abdominal wall with a uterus pushing between the two sides of it, labeled “Abdominal Separation”. End description.]
because your uterus is getting so overly expanded by relaxin, so you’re basically getting a preview of childbirth before childbirth can even begin. Fantastic!
Now, onto childbirth. Conveniently, Cracked has another related article about the terrifying things they never tell you about childbirth!
How about the dreadful possibility of needing an episiotomy?
In an episiotomy, a scalpel is used to create an incision that starts at the bottom of the vagina, and goes downward towards the rectum. As if this wasn’t hard enough to watch without crying like the little girl that our high school gym teachers always knew we would turn out to be, the procedure is carried out at the same time the baby’s head is forcing its way out.
Well, gee, I didn’t know Tom Six took over reproductive healthcare as well as making fucked up B-movies. If that’s not torture, I don’t know what is.
And you… you’d force all that on someone just for having sex? No one should have to go through all that if they aren’t ready.
Oh, and I haven’t even touched reproductive coercion yet! This is when your AMAB (Assigned Male At Birth) partner forces you, an AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) person to be pregnant in order to keep you in a relationship with them. The (incredibly wrong) stereotype of a woman using a pregnancy to keep a man in a relationship with them is completely wrong, because this form of reproductive coercion is actually going on right now. What if the pregnant person is being forced through pregnancy not by the law, but by their partner? And it doesn’t even have to be forced on you by your partner—a parent or someone you consider a friend, for instance, is just as capable of playing emotional gymnastics with you to abuse you into keeping that child against your will.
I know what anti-choicers are going to follow this up with: “If you don’t want that, don’t have sex!” Even ignoring the heteronormativity and pretending rape and reproductive coercion never happen, this view is ridiculous. Consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy. Saying so is like saying that eating red meat is consent to dying of heart disease, or that swimming is consent to drowning. People are entitled to have sex for reasons other than reproducing, and you have no right to police their sex lives. Period. And what if the contraception fails? Are you so anti-choice then?
Just… really, who the fuck do you think you are?