I am against both abortion and its prohibition
MERYEM İLAYDA ATLASBirth control methods are no secret; it is not that we need to file a petition to the governor’s office and wait for our turn for months to determine whether we are pregnant. Well, what are we discussing now? What week an abortion can be conducted, when the embryo acquires a soul, what the legal restrictions are… Abortion as a murder, as a violation of the right to life…
Is that true? Yes, it is true. But there is something strange about it. Some topics boldly take over the political agenda. And, look, certain people who have not even thought for a minute on the issue of woman all through their lives – let alone written about abortion – have all of a sudden turned into tigers. The result is always the same: The emergence of a bossy, fighting language that does not understand the state of the woman but degrades her instead.
For example, we are not discussing rape. Instead of considering abortion as murder and fretting over it, we accept rape as a fact and begin considering subsequent options: Will the state provide care for a baby born out of rape or not?
I must be highly naïve because I cannot accept such a social fact at all. Alternatively, I cannot understand that while certain issues are bravely condemned at the core with the conscience, others are accepted as a phenomenon. I am a religious person, and issues that tarnish human dignity do not fit into my conscience according to the political agenda.
Pious males should not talk so much
Pious males shouldn’t talk so much because it all becomes a bit funny. Certain people who are not used to discussing matters that concern women do not know what to do when all of a sudden a topic on women enters their agenda. Just like some adolescents who only see black and white in their worlds, they write compositions along the lines of “Are you for or against abortion, are you a murderer or not?” A debate is continuing against those who say, “My body belongs to me;” in response, they argue: “Your body does not belong to you – who does it belong to? If nobody, then it’s mine. Oh, sorry, it is my monopoly, it belongs to nobody. This is a world that lasts three days anyway; we will all return to the earth.”
On the other hand, those who have some practice on the subject are able to link every topic to the role of the mother and the importance of the family. But they do it with such poor language that they are scattered from Victorian England to the Party of Union and Progress of the 1900s in the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, it is as deep as the outdated, aggressive line of “Mothers should not cry; I also have a sister; Women are flowers.”
Even if these people are competent people with scientific and cultural backgrounds, the ones we love and cherish, they again fail on female subjects. Why so? Because among the religious community, these matters are not discussed in a form where women are also included. In a secluded, supposedly sacred zone, these themes are ignored as long as they can be. Moreover, it is women who are first convinced not to talk about these matters.
When people voice different ideas and sensitivities, they are stigmatized and destroyed with attitudes like “Get out of here, you are a feminist.” When misunderstandings about women are voiced, then examples from the “age of happiness” (in the 16th century) are cited and they are snapped at with a line like “There was no such thing at that time.” Who are these people? Those who have read this piece up to here and are now furious. Be calm. I’m not making reinterpretations here. I’m pointing at an existing social disturbance. I’m talking about a lack of a style and the insufficiency of the language used. It’s a language that does not flex, that makes a man a man, that slaps women, that puts a mortgage on being a human being, that dictates, that tries to conduct daily life with bookish arguments, that is essentialist, that is moralist; it is a cold and tough language. A language that can see matters that concern men as sociological facts, a language that does not feel the need to discuss these things because they are accepted as being inspired by being a “human,” that normalizes them, that associates them with the free will of the individual and that embraces those who have violated them.
Like all of our topics, the subject of abortion is about to die on the operating table. The issue is not about opposing abortion; you can form an ethics board, cap the number of weeks at which an abortion can be performed – you can do whatever is relevant, but again, at the end of the day, the decision belongs to the woman; it is her choice.
I am against abortion. But I am also against the state telling woman what to do and what not to do.
I believe that opposing abortion as a “normalized” birth control method as we frequently see in TV soap operas (for example twice in “Aşk-ı Memnu” - Forbidden Love) with comments like “You will just abort it,” or “You will abort that child” and addressing the conscience are much more effective than banning the practice or fighting it. It is one matter to raise awareness in society for the anti-abortion fight like one advocates against smoking, but it is another matter entirely to call them “murderers” in banning it. Worse is to accept rape as a phenomenon and try to find a solution on that basis while, like it or not, refusing to accept abortion as a phenomenon.
Meryem İlayda Atlas is a contributor for daily Radikal in which this piece was published on June 4. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.