Anti-Choice Myth-Busting



Voice for Life issued a press release last week claiming that those of us campaigning for the decriminalisation of abortion in NZ are, among other things, using Nazi propaganda tactics (sigh…) to lie to you about the illegal status of abortion in NZ.  It hasn’t escaped my notice that anti-choicers have been leaning heavily on the ‘it’s not really illegal anyway’ spade  since the issue of decriminalisation resurfaced last year – with some key anti-choice figures outright claiming that abortion is in fact already legal in NZ.

Which is interesting, considering that anti-choice websites in NZ dedicate quite the page space  to how illegal it is – and how terrible it is that so many ‘illegal’ abortions are being done  (only two of many, many websites) in reality due to the ineffective outdated legislation we have in NZ. It seems whether or not abortion is legal or illegal depends on which corner anti-choicers feel backed into.

Again, I must emphasise that the facts are that abortion is illegal in NZ, unless a doctor and their patient in most situations are forced to fudge reality a little to get the procedure done legally. This adds unnecessary stigma and guilt upon women who are already making a difficult decision.

It heavily contributes to the very guilt and isolation anti-choicers claim to care so much about when asking women to reach out for ‘forgiveness’. It’s almost like they want the woman to feel tormented about her decision. Why else would they have empathetic-appearing website front pages like Family Life International or Voice For Life? Front pages for misinformation  judgement and condemnation. Front pages for fundamentalist anti-choicers who share their real feelings about the women they appear to want to help in sickeningly misogynist tones on their blogs. If that’s ethical behaviour to anti-choicers then I have genuine concerns about any of their promotion of ‘ethics’.

The other major concern pro-choice activists have about abortion’s illegal status is accessibility for women who need it – which varies hugely depending on location.

This ties into another argument NZ anti-choicers are currently promoting. That pro-choice campaigners are lying to you about whether an abortion is ‘easy’ to get or not by claiming both are true. But the reality is they are – we live in New Zealand – a country with few large urban centres and many large rural areas. Of course large chunks of women near urban centres can ‘easily’ access abortions. But those in rural areas find things much, much more difficult and traumatic due to a lack of access, and they are equally important. It is not a case of is it A or B, it’s both. That’s why we have a problem with the current law, and that’s why we need decriminalisation – so our rural sisters have the same access to choices our urban women do.

Nobody campaigning for decriminalisation is trying to scare women into thinking they could be arrested for getting an abortion. Taking abortion out of the Crimes Act will not encourage women to have more abortions. And women are not so thick that they are going to become scared of having an abortion because other women want to help them access the abortion they need. It’s illogical.

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But that’s what it seems to be about, isn’t it? Women are inherently inferior. We need men to tell us what to do with our bodies, because they know us best and don’t want us going to hell because we’re fickle creatures who will make bad decisions, terribly misjudging what we think we know is best for ourselves and our families (including contraception) – which will cause us to become more hysterical and require male counsellors in an effort to assuage our tormented souls. Why? Because we are baby-killing murderers.

And that is EXACTLY why morality and law should remain separate. Because our society needs rules based on everyone’s reality – not just the realities of (well-meaning) privileged, conservative, often religious men who will never understand what it is like to be a woman – let alone represent ALL women and their very varied realities.


  1. I was really impressed when the Greens brought this up during the election campaign… if only NZ voters cared enough to put people in parliament who are willing to do something about this. As it stands, 3 more years of John Key claiming he knows what ‘ordinary NZers’ want, and you can guarantee he won’t go anywhere near abortion.

  2. Rachael I am a man, so I tick that box. And I am strongly against abortion because the unborn has no representation in the decision. None. I know of no other circumstance where a human life is ended at the behest of other humans. If we grieve over suicide, the autonomous action of an adult human being, how much more should we grieve when a life is taken that has no say.

    • Well, ‘the born’ don’t have a lot of choice either.

      Local drain? Public toilet? Church porch wrapped in a towel? One of the ‘leave a baby, no questions asked’ ports open in some of more economically-straitened nations of Europe or Asia? Followed by a cold, grim and stinted childhood in an orphanage…

      Then we can move on to the ‘enlightened’ circumstances currently offering in good ol’ Texas. Or the hideous choices faced by women fleeing hazardous zones and trying to cope in refugee camps. Or faced with too many girl-children in a patriarchal society.

      Early abortion? Or smothered in the ashes? Her choice.

      And – coming from a drone or depleted uranium near you – minced or deformed kids and a lifetime of mother-care in very difficult circumstances.

      Of course you are entitled to your opinion about the wonders of little clumps of cells. So long as it stops with you.

      • I would hardly call leaving a baby in a public toilet ‘enlightened’, would you? I’ve heard the other emotional arguments before, they don’t wash with me, most likely because they simply don’t reflect reality. Abortion takes a life, and one with no advocacy. It should be reserved for the most extreme of cases, and those cases only.

    • The majority of abortions performed are prior to 12 weeks gestation. This is prior to proper formation of the nervous system and brain. If the foetus was born naturally at or before this time it would immediately die, as it would be completely incapable of surviving outside of the womb and without a placenta.

      Most natural miscarriages (which is about 10-20% of pregnancies) happen in the same range.

      Are you very concerned about those unborn? They too have no decision. Where is your concern for them?

      Because in the former, a woman is deciding the fate of her life and the life of her family. In the latter it is just simple biology (or God if you choose to define it that way).

      But in both instances there is NO LIFE WHICH DIED. There was a potential life which ended, but no viable separate properly or fully formed human being dies.

      Get over it dude. Science does not support your view. And your view? Insists on diminishing the life choices of half the population. If you can never get pregnant then you should have NO say about abortion. End. Of. Story.

      • Actually science supports my position, and it astonishes me that you could argue otherwise. Do yourself a favour and google the status of a foetus at less than 12 weeks, I assure you you will be astonished. As to your desire to shutdown a male perspective, that’s about as silly as saying a female doctor should not have a view on prostate cancer.

        • Actually, science supports my view entirely.

          Most abortions are within the first trimester of a pregnancy.

          Within the first 12 weeks the nervous system and brain are not fully formed. That is a proven fact. The science is very clear on this point.

          I have a biology degree so your appeal to “science supports my position” will not wash here. I do actually know what I’m talking about.

          See, thats the thing about science. It deals in facts. Not emotion.

          If you disagree with abortion, then don’t have one.

          And still you have not answered the question I asked you: if you’re so concerned about abortion, then where is your concern for the number of miscarriages which happen naturally? Most early on in pregnancy. Where is your demand that more research be done to find a solution? To prevent these miscarriages?

          Because if you are going to insist that a clump of differentiating cells without a fully formed nervous system and brain is the same as a fully formed human being, then you have to be consistent and advocate for ALL those balls of differentiating cells. Not just some. All.

          • Sorry, but I don’t care what degree you have, you are letting your own personal agenda get in the way of critical thinking. Your choice of words is also ‘convenient’. ‘Fully formed’ is just another way of saying those organs are, in fact, in the process of formation. Life has begun. As to your question about miscarriage, I understand it better than you may know. Miscarriage is in the same category as any other of nature’s cruel tricks, such as child cancer. But there is a big difference between nature’s natural order and a deliberate act of taking an innocent life.

      • “And your view? Insists on diminishing the life choices of half the population. ”

        What a curious turn of phrase. A life choice that ends in the death of a human being.

        • Sure. Fine.

          It is a clump of differentiating cells. Without a fully formed nervous system and brain.

          It is a potential life. It is not the same as a fully formed human being.

          Yes miscarriage can be emotionally devastating. That does not change the fact that most miscarriages are early on in a pregnancy and the foetus lost was not fully formed. Most women understand this.

          It doesn’t make grief any less, and it doesn’t make their loss any less.

          You don’t have to change facts to encompass caring and sympathy for women who miscarry.

          • No, it is not ‘potential’ life, any more than a child born with developmental delays is ‘potential’ life. Your position cannot withstand any kind of meaningful, rational analysis.

            • Yes it can.

              If it was born naturally there is absolutely no way it can survive.

              it cannot respire on its own, its lungs are not fully formed

              it cannot egest on its own, its digestive system is not fully formed

              Year 9 biology; MRS GREN. It cannot do all of the things required for a living organism; it can do some but not all. For “life” to be defined it must be able to do all. This is really basic stuff!

              Even with massive medical intervention an embryo cannot survive. It is not recognisably a fully formed human being. It is still forming.

              Yet you insist that it has more rights than the woman carrying it.

              • So you now redefine viability as the ability to live independently outside the mother? Interesting. What about a baby born requiring temporary life support to survive? Your logic would support infanticide. Like I said, logically unsustainable.
                As to rights, the parents of an unborn child have rights, but none that would end another. I can’t murder my neighbour; no-one should be able to murder an unborn child.

  3. @ Nehemia Wall: ” And I am strongly against abortion because the unborn has no representation in the decision.”

    This statement is an eloquent illustration of your lack of knowledge about the biology surrounding contraception – including abortion.

    Until you’ve done a lot of reading, and got a handle on the issue, it’s best that you don’t comment further. Of course, once you have done that reading and got a handle on the issue, I doubt you’d be making statements like that above.

    Really, it ain’t your business what women choose to do by way of contraception.

    • You are confused about the meaning of contraception. Contraception is preventing pregnancy, not ending it.

      • Not quite. And again, you show your ignorance (really? stop already, you’re embarrassing yourself)

        Some forms of contraception prevent ovulation and so prevent pregnancy.

        Other forms of contraception prevent implantation of a fertilised zygote, which may actually become an embryo (understand, a zygote is one cell, a fertilised ovum, while an embryo is more than one cell as the zygote begins to multiply via mitosis). A zygote is formed in the fallopian tube, travels down towards the uterus, where it may implant.

        An IUD may prevent implantation. Of an embryo. Thus, it kills an embryo.

        What about the emergency contraception pill? That too works to stop implantation on the uterine lining.

        If you seriously believe that life begins at contraception then you believe that a single celled zygote has as much right to life and liberty as a fully grown and formed woman.

        So here is a thought for you.

        Imagine if you will you wake up one morning tied to your bed. Alongside you is a world famous violinist. This violinist is much loved the world over. But this violinist has a life threatening disorder that can only be resolved by attachment to another human being who is metabolically suited. That other human being was found to be YOU. YOU are now attached to this world famous violinist.

        Treatment period? Nine months. You cannot go anywhere for nine months without this violinist alongside (inside?) you.

        As the treatment continues the risk to yourself and the discomfort (?!?!) increases. It may even be life threatening.

        At the start, do you have the right to say no to this violinist? Can you claim bodily integrity and refuse to be hijacked for nine months?

        Philosophically the argument is the same as for pregnancy and abortion.

        • Who said I believed life begins at conception? You seem to have made an assumption and then build an argument around it.

          As to your example of the violinist, pregnancy is rarely life threatening, and in those very rare cases that it is I would support ending it.

          But I will repeat my key point. We rail against suicide, which is the autonomous action of an adult human being, yet we do not protect the right to life on an innocent child who has no other voice. Don’t you find that sick?

          • Your distinction of when life begins is very vague actually.

            You do seem to believe a ball of differentiating cells is the same as a human being though, which is pretty silly and not supported by actual facts. But yeah, whatever.

            Even if the violinist does not threaten your life, and in most cases the violinist won’t, you’ll be fine, then you’re still stuck with him for 9 months. And it WILL become increasingly uncomfortable, and at the end you may have quite a lot of pain to have him removed from you. Or you can have him surgically removed, but you’ll be warned this surgery has all the usual risks of surgery, and you’ll have to be awake for it.

            So what of it? Do you have the right to have the violinist removed? You did not give permission, you only went to see him play a concert. You love to hear him play, but that doesn’t mean you wanted him attached to you for 9 months.

            Suicide of a fully formed grown human being is NOT the same as removing a clump of differentiating cells, not even the same as an embryo. Its not the same thing as an adult human at all. Big difference.

            • “Your distinction of when life begins is very vague actually. ”

              Actually I haven’t made a distinction. You made an assumption, instead of just asking the question.

              “Suicide of a fully formed grown human being is NOT the same as removing a clump of differentiating cells, not even the same as an embryo.”

              Actually, based on your own logic of the violinist, it is the same. And here you are hoist by your own petard. Let me put it to you this way…the person who commits suicide is attached to the community and is causing it great pain and discomfort. They require constant, round the clock, attention, and the risk is not just to themselves but to others as well. If you think we should cut the violinist loose, why not the suicide?

        • (Actually Lara , “an IUD may prevent implantation.” of a zygote – NOT an embryo!
          It can’t turn into an embryo if it hasn’t been able to attach itself to the uterine wall.)

          Rachel – you’re stuck in a time warp. Banging on your “Abortions” drum as if we’re still living in the 1960’s.

          Abortion is freely available enough in NZ.

          If it weren’t there’d be back street abortion controversies happening in NZ. But there aren’t any.
          WHAT does this indicate?
          It indicates that the status quo in NZ is GOOD ENOUGH.

          Aww… but the “stigma & guilt”
          – It’s only transitory
          Aww ..but what about our “rural sisters”
          -They’ll go to the nearest city, no big deal.

          Now is there any substance to your Case or is it all just sentiment and hot air?

          • No, a zygote is one cell. That is the biological definition of a zygote.

            It does not stop and wait before beginning mitosis until it is implanted in the uterine wall, it begins dividing pretty much straight away.

            By the time its travelled down the fallopian tube to the uterus its a blastocyst; a ball of dividing cells beginning to differentiate.

          • When medically necessary.

            The rate of late term abortions is very low. The vast majority of elective abortions are performed early.

            So I do often see this subject brought up by anti-choicers to try and argue that because late term abortion is horrible we should stop all abortion.

            • Hmm yes, I think late term abortions should definitely be legal for medical purposes, but otherwise I don’t think it should be.

      • @ Nehemia Wall: “You are confused about the meaning of contraception. Contraception is preventing pregnancy, not ending it.”

        Ha! See what I mean? You don’t understand the biology. But the Vatican does: go read its website.

        Best to refrain from further comment, sir.

    • @ Draco T Bastard: “It’s an interesting article based upon US interviews but I doubt if it’d be much different in NZ as it really is the same type of people who are anti-abortion in both places.”

      It sure is an interesting article; illuminating for all the wrong reasons. It’d also be interesting to know how many people espousing such views are also dead keen for “our” troops to go fight IS, on the basis of how that group perceives and treats women.

  4. The arguments regarding abortion are often carried by those will not be in the position to have to make the incredibly hard decision on what to do about an unwanted pregnancy. When you get that little cross, it is up to you – no one else in reality. All your choices are barbed, none will be easy. Longing from adoption, regret from abortion, resentment to the child you kept – these are realities. But you will chose what you feel is best for you and your unborn at the time – and that might be a peaceful release.
    My child lives in another city with his adoptive parents: this was my choice. No life should be underestimated but abortion should be decriminalised.
    Note: the top setence is not aimed at men – most people on both sides will not have to face the choice they fight for.

    • “When you get that little cross, it is up to you – no one else in reality” And isn’t THAT an indictment on our society? If a woman feels her only options are abortion or adoption something is seriously wrong.
      Perhaps if motherhood was more highly regarded and if the single mother was helped and not maligned by society and government, she may not regard the unwanted pregnancy with such horror.
      Abortion is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Rather than campaigning for abortion, why not campaign for support for the woman who is pregnant.
      How much do you care about the woman who is pregnant and desperate but cannot for her own reasons have an abortion? Not one bit I’d say.
      The woman who chooses to have an abortion in this country is well served. Its those that choose not to who need societys support.

      • Well actually I empathise a truckload the woman who is pregnant and chooses not to have an abortion. If you read my comment again you will see that I was one of those women. There are three options – abortion, adoption or keeping the child. Again none of these are easy. One friend still struggles with the mental abuse she got from her mother because she was the reason her parents got married and her mother always resented her – and told her so. Another had an abortion and has felt guilt for about it for many years. I still have a part which longs for my son even though I have contact with him. These are examples but I’ll tell you one thing it is never NEVER an easy choice-whatever the pregnant woman does. But actually – in my case – it was the best I could do for him. Have you been in this position as – from the 6 women I know – actually none of the options were well served . We ALL needed support. Voice for life would be better served campaigning for easier acess to birth control so this whole issue is less likely to accure in the first place.
        I understand the passion on both sides but it really is the most personal of decisions.

    • Hi Cagey… for the record I HAVE had to make that decision, and I have also adopted two children into my family. My views on abortion are informed by a number of factors, including simple logic and respect for the rights of an innocent.

      • You just backed up my point – you have made your decisions yourself, based on your own beliefs on what was the best decisions for your own baby. But the six women I know who had unwanted – not unexpected – pregnancies -who chose adoption or abortion – did so making the best decision for them both ( particularly the one who was raped). It wasn’t society’s lack of caring that made them choose to not keep them.

        • I’m not campaigning for abortion – I think it’s the last option, that all the other options need to be fully discussed, that there needs to be honest disclosure of the risks and the mother supported – but it shouldn’t be like being gay was in the 80’s: illiegal but we won’t prosecute you. The major problem with an unborn baby is it’s inside it’s mother – for 9 months. I’m really uncomfortable about vilifying a woman who cannot cope with this.

        • An individual’s decisions are, quite frankly, irrelevant. The issue is whether or not abortion is logically sustainable. It isn’t other than in a few extreme circumstances. No-one has the right to take an innocent life, no matter how inconvenient that life may be. The pro abortion position is simply not logically sustainable when considered alongside infanticide and suicide.

          • Infanticide, suicide and abortions are completely different. Do you really believe that a woman chooses abortion because the pregnancy is incovenient? That is really simplistic but I apologies if I presented my point that way. Morally yes you are right – every life is uniquely special. Look, 20 years ago I’d been cheering away with you but I know people who’ve been in this position and I saw – who’s right is this? Because if it isn’t the mother’s – and she can’t pychologically carry this baby for 9 months – then who’s is it?

  5. @ Nehemia Wall: “No thanks, I prefer authority over commentary. And I have no time for your obsession with the Catholic Church.”

    So: you’re not actually interested in having your misapprehensions corrected, or even challenged. In virtue of what would you conclude that “authority” doesn’t underlie a great deal of that commentary? But you won’t find out if you’re determined not to be exposed to it.

    Here’s the thing: the Jesuits have got it right. It isn’t possible to draw a biological line between abortion and other forms of contraception. Lara has pointed out above why that’s so. The Church points out that, whatever method one uses, a life is still prevented from coming into existence. In addition, some forms of contraception have an abortifacient function. Thus the Church bans all forms of contraception, abortion included.

    Here’s what you stated above: ” And I am strongly against abortion because the unborn has no representation in the decision. None. I know of no other circumstance where a human life is ended at the behest of other humans.”

    For the sake of consistency, a view of this sort really does commit you to follow the Catholic Church stance, and oppose all forms of contraception. But I’ll bet you don’t.

    I note this also from you earlier: ” Abortion takes a life, and one with no advocacy. It should be reserved for the most extreme of cases, and those cases only.”

    This is inconsistent with your earlier-expressed view: you cannot have it both ways. You can’t argue that abortion should be opposed, then give yourself an “out” clause for extreme cases – whatever that means. This is an incoherent stance.

    You really do need to go read those earlier posts.

  6. I’m simply not interested in Catholic dogma. Or any other religious dogma for that matter. This is an issue of rational analysis. As to the coherency of my argument, you simply don’t take the time to understand it. My view on sbortion is entirely coherent. The only time abortion is acceptable is when another life is at risk, ow that of the mother. Most abortions in NZ are acts of convenience when all is said and done. The unborn has no lawyer, no advocate. On those cases abortion is murder, plain and simple.

  7. @ Nehemia Wall: ” This is an issue of rational analysis.”

    Good grief! Do you seriously think that the Jesuits don’t do rational analysis? This has nothing to do with dogma, Catholic or otherwise. It’s an issue of philosophy and biology. The Church adds a layer of theology, to which I don’t subscribe, personally.

    “My view on sbortion is entirely coherent. The only time abortion is acceptable is when another life is at risk, ow that of the mother.”

    Nope. Your view certainly isn’t coherent. Either abortion is murder, or it isn’t; there’s no wriggling around it. You can’t make exceptions to suit your worldview.The mickey-drips have you up a philosophical creek without a paddle, I’m afraid.

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