I have seen this anti-abortion meme make the rounds on Facebook one too many times over the past several years. I’m going to share some THOUGHTS on it, so buckle up.
First, the meme:
Checkmate, feminists, amirite?
First of all: The meme is based on a straw-man argument, although, to be fair, one that pro-choice people–especially cis men–too often get sucked into. Anti-abortion activists want to make the debate about when life begins, and pro-choice people are too often quick to forget the real issue–the autonomy of pregnant people–and engage this pointless debate.
Of course a single living cell in the womb of a pregnant woman is considered “life,” especially by scientists. So the entire premise of the meme is flawed to begin with.
But when we bring the debate back around to autonomy, the meme makes even less sense.
Say scientists did find life on another planet. Exciting, right?
Okay, now say that life on another planet somehow ended up inside the body of one of the scientists who was studying it. Say that the scientist had no say it in, and (reasonably) wanted that life out of their body, even if it meant killing this newfound alien life form.
Say this proved to be impossible, and the alien life form continued to feed off of the scientist’s body until it was ready to burst out.
How would “scientists” feel about alien life in this scenario?
I can’t say for sure, but I know the general public was horrified by the 1979 sci-fi horror film, Alien, and I just described the plot.
Alien scared people for a reason. Sure, because the aliens had sharp teeth, penis-shaped heads, and killed people. But the most foundational horror in the movie was rooted in sexual and reproductive violence.
It wasn’t just a movie about aliens. It was a movie about rape and forced pregnancy.
It scared audiences (and continues to do so) because it was rooted in a very real threat–the loss of the ability to decide what lifeforms become intimately connected with our own bodies for their own purposes.
Bodily intimacy can be a wonderful thing when wanted and chosen. Sex can be life-giving, healing, and just plain fun. Pregnancy can be beautiful and adds to the world in wonderful ways.
But we are afraid of Alien because we know, even if on a subconscious level, that when intimacy is forced on us against our will–in the form of rape or pregnancy–it is horrifying.
The abortion debate was never really about when life begins. This is a distraction that anti-abortion activists like to use to avoid admitting what they are really asking of pregnant people.
What they are really asking of pregnant people is something we as a society are terrified of when we imagine aliens doing it to us. Lazy Facebook memes ignore this and act like this is a simple matter of life vs. non-life, because they can’t admit that maybe people with uteruses deserve a say over what their body is used for.