The Strangest Museum I’ve Ever Been To

In Vienna, I went to the world’s only museum on abortion.

It’s true–Vienna has a museum for everything.

Their website is here:

Room_V_1Although it claimed to be completely neutral, of course it wasn’t. It was definitely in support of the practice. Trying to separate the actual facts of the matter from the clear bent on abortion being a right of all women was a little annoying—but museums are rarely the cut-and-dry textbook facts that you might expect, anyway. After all, this museum was founded by a gynecologist—and an abortion provider.

For example the museum website says that Freud (a native of Vienna) thought that the greatest liberation of mankind would be the separation of the sex drive from reproduction. Yet the only quotes online from him that I can find from him are about how contraceptive sex is a perversion—quite a different story.

Ultimately, despite the irksome bias, and despite historically being a vocal opponent of abortion, I nevertheless walked away feeling like legalized abortion was a sad, but important and necessary, requirement of any civilized society, regardless of what my personal feelings are on the matter.

Here’s why:

abortion toolsWoman’s health: The rate of women’s mortality greatly decreases when abortion is legalized (because women are not resorting to terminate pregnancies in an unsafe manner.) They attempted to force miscarriages using knitting needles, splinters of wood, herbal poisons, or by throwing themselves down staircases. This is still continuing today in countries where it is illegal.

Infanticide: Before abortion became an easily accessible medical procedure, unwanted babies were often killed after birth.

It’s wanted: For better or for worse, a high percentage of women want it. I’ve seen stats that say about 35 out of 1,000 women get one each year. In a civilized society, if a majority of people feel something is ethically allowable, then that is what the laws should reflect. Right?

(Although slavery, for example, may have been a majority accepted thing at one time, it was still always and will always be wrong. I guess this is why the debates on abortion will continue and why Roe vs Wade was so scandalous.)

Lower crime rate: Another interesting connection it made was the reduction in crime. In societies which permit abortion, crime is lower, because unwanted children are not growing up impoverished and in single parent families.

What the museum did not address:

Post-abortion regret: I think there is a significant minority of women who make the decision too hastily or change their minds later and wish they had made a different decision. I didn’t see this discussion in the museum, though it’s true that the exhibitions were more about the history of contraception and not about how women feel about it afterwards or whether it was a positive or negative experience in their lives.

Alternatives to abortion: The morning after pill, or adoption, were not offered as preferable to abortion, or as a reasonable other option period, at this museum.

Suffering of the fetus: The museum did not discuss if the fetus felt pain in the termination of the pregnancy, which is an important consideration if you are going to talk about abortion, I think.

Late-term abortion: This is the most problematic thing for me when it comes to abortion. At that point, I believe it is legally arguable as to say it is a distinct being from its mother when there is a baby who could survive on its own. The earliest I think you could argue this is maybe 21 or 22 weeks because this is the earliest a baby has survived premature birth. If abortions occur after this time, there is the risk that someone will one day give those talks you hear about: “I survived my abortion.” Not good for your future relationship with your mom.

I think the museum didn’t address late term abortion because it is too contentious of a matter, other than to say many women don’t learn they are pregnant until quite far along and then they still have to make a decision which takes time. I disagreed with its statement however, that said the the fetus could only survive at 32 weeks into the pregnancy. There are other babies that have survived much earlier than that after premature labor.

The strange thing is that it seems the more people fight against abortion and contraception, the more unwanted pregnancies there are, and the more abortions there are. When there is available sex education and access to contraception to everyone, and women can make their own choice on the matter, the rates of unwanted pregnancies go down, the mortality rates for women go down, which is what I think everyone wants.

IMG_2084The funniest thing about the whole experience was I brought Ryder along, who was full of crazy energy since it was the first time he’d gotten out of the house yet that day. He ran in circles, crashed into things, and in general made me wonder if the two university-aged girls who were there at the museum with me were questioning their desire to have children after watching his behavior. Which they shouldn’t. Having a baby is the most wonderful thing in the world, and people who choose to have abortions might miss that, but I also have to acknowledge that there are women out there who are not as finance-wise and marriage-wise and health-wise and emotions-wise as secure as I am, and their choices might be different than mine.

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 371 awesome articles for us.

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