I’ve talked before about pro-lifers erasing women in their discussion of abortion. Well, I was perusing the Patheos evangelical channel and I found this YET AGAIN.

“I’m sure evangelical youngsters everywhere would rejoice if their elders decided that they should have sex with great frequency because “if a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate.”  But alas, there is a key distinction between a sperm and a zygote.  A zygote, left to develop naturally, will tend to develop into a human being.  You can have a tank of millions of sperm, but without an egg not a single one will develop into a human being.”

Did you see where women got erased? Here, let me help you out:

A zygote, left to develop naturally, will tend to develop into a human being.

There, right there, is where women are removed from the picture entirely. Somehow zygotes magically develop into human beings…like, by themselves. Nothing else involved there. No one else effected. But that’s simply untrue. A zygote will NOT develop naturally into a human being if left to itself. Rather, in order to develop into a human being it has to have massive intervention from an outside source. Namely, a woman. Without this intervention, a zygote will not become a human being.

I’m sorry if it seems like I’m splitting hairs here, and I realized perfectly well that the author of that piece probably didn’t even realize he was doing this (which almost makes it worse), but every time a pro-lifer erases women like this, I can’t help but cringe. No, more than that, I want to yell.

I am a person! I matter! You can’t erase me like that! 

And yet they do. Over and over and over again. Sometimes I think they are blissfully unaware that they’re doing this. And then they wonder why women get mad. And then they react with confusion when people accuse them of being anti-women.

So, note to pro-lifers: STOP ERASING WOMEN.

Because that’s the problem, isn’t it? If zygotes didn’t live inside women’s bodies, this wouldn’t be an issue. Sure, keep the zygotes alive! Care for them until they’re fully mature, put them up for adoption! Great! Who would oppose that? The trouble is, zygotes aren’t some sort of physically independent entity. Rather, they have to live inside of and feed off of women. If you want to legislate that all zygotes must be allowed to develop into the physically independent entities we call babies, you have to come to terms with the fact that that intimately involves women and their bodies. And yet, pro-lifers can’t seem to do that. Or, when they do admit this, it’s to offer pregnant women free cribs. And baby clothes. Or, you know, to talk about how women are supposed to sacrifice.

If someone wants to make a case against abortion, they need to actually address the reality that this discussion involves women’s bodies in an intimate and completely invasive way. They need to stop pretending they can talk about zygotes and fetuses without mention of women. They need to listen to women and understand what is involved. They need to realize that “saving babies,” if that is what they must call it, involves convincing or forcing women to allow the zygote or fetus to physically occupy their bodies, turning their lives upside down for nine months. Maybe if they actually act like they understand what it is they are asking, maybe then we can talk about it. Until then, I can’t. I’m too angry

Pregnancy and abortion intimately involve women’s bodies. You can’t separate that out of the equation and just talk about zygotes and fetuses. It’s time pro-lifers realized this. I am tired of being erased. Enough is enough. 

Edit: The article I quote in the OP stated that “You can have a tank of millions of sperm, but without an egg not a single one will develop into a human being.” Reader Adele just left a comment pointing out that “You could have a tank of millions of zygotes but without a woman not a single one will develop into a human being.”

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.