New Zealand is about to have a national conversation about abortion. Kiwis will need to keep their critical thinking faculties sharp to deal with anti-choicers’ bad faith arguments and ridiculous narratives.

The bad faith arguments usually take the form of trotting out debunked research as though it were reliable. I’ve talked about it before.

The narrative, however, goes something like this: women and children need to be protected from abortion.

Let’s take a few minutes and unpack that.

“Children”: when anti-choicers talk about children being harmed by abortion they mean to imply children are aborted. This is false – neither children nor babies are the subject of abortions, only zygotes, embryos, and foetuses. They use the word “children” to imply people are out there aborting five year olds.

“Abortion”: anti-choicers like to imply abortion is dangerous. It isn’t. Abortion has a very low complication rate. It is about 14 times safer than childbirth. Which is, you know, the only other alternative if you are pregnant.

“Protected”: this is a euphemism for “controlled”, meaning prevented by law from accessing health care anti-choicers don’t want you to access. Of course, that hasn’t worked too well for the past few hundred years. Experience has demonstrated again and again that pregnant people will take a chance on black market abortions if safe abortion care is no longer legal. The best way to protect people from unsafe, illegal abortions is to make abortion legal and easy to access. But you never see anti-choicers talk about protecting women from the inevitable effects of the abortion laws they want.

“Women”: this narrative frame presents abortion as something that happens without their consent, like a mugging. It conveniently ignores the reality that abortion is something women seek out, and will go to great lengths to access. It assumes women are not too bright, little more than children, not competent enough to govern themselves, likely to fall prey to … I dunno, evil abortion doctors? Like DHBs are out there trying to lure unwary pregnant women into their abortion services?

It would be a good critical thinking discipline to run anti-choice narratives through a kind of bullshit meter. All you need to do is examine their implications logically and realistically, with the common sense of a five year old child.

That is the proper use for imaginary five year olds.