Monday, January 22, 2007
Why I am pro-choice
It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog with any degree of regularity that I am completely, across-the-board pro-choice. Even in situations when I myself would not have an abortion, I support a woman's right to make that decision for herself, as well as her right to access to safe, legal medical care. I've blogged about why before, but since it's Blogging For Choice Day, allow me go to into more detail.
First, I believe the right to choose is a fundamental human right. This belief comes from a mix of sources, both scientific and religious. On a religious front, I believe in absolute free will. I was raised as a fundamentalist Christian and have since converted waaaay away from that, but the one theme that has been central to my faith has been free will. People are independent agents. We have the capacity to make our own choices, regardless of how other people feel about those choices. We have the right to accept the consequences of those choices, as well as the responsiblity of those choices. To deny us that right is to deny our humanity. To say that a woman is not capable/allowed to make the choice to end, continue or begin a pregnancy is to say that a woman is less than human. It is to deny her full humanity. To force her to continue a pregnancy she does not want is to enslave her to her body. To force her to bear children she does not want, either to force her to give them to other people to raise or to raise on her own when she does not want to, is to enslave her again. Human beings have a fundamental right not to be enslaved. To say women can/should be forced to remain pregnant against their will is, again, to deny them humanity.
Until a fetus can survive on its own, outside its mother's womb, its 'rights' do not compete with a woman's. One is a fully-formed, already living, interacting with the world, human being. One has the potential to be such a person, but isn't yet. Do you enslave a human being to a potential human being? Does the possibility of a life trump the actuality of a life? That's illogical and points back to this -- women are not human beings, therefore not granted full human rights. Which, frankly, I think is bullshit.
One size does not fit all -- even in the most wanted pregnancy, bad things can happen. The child a woman tried to conceive for 10 years can cause her extraordinary physical stress, some of which can endanger her life. If my kidneys start failing in the third month, my doctor says they'll be completely gone by the fifth month and I won't survive long enough to give birth, should I be forced to go through with it anyway? Or what if I'm not going to die, but the damage the pregnancy is causing will be long-term, rendering me incapable of actually caring for my child for a substantial period of time? Or what if the medical bills generated ruin me financially? What if the child has some disability that will render its life unlivable? Who gets to make that decision? The state? The state that has absolutely no idea about my life, what it entails or how it's impersonal decision will affect me?
Or what if I just don't want a child? What if I was using birth control religiously, but it still didn't work? Don't I know myself and my life better than anyone else? When I say, "I'd be an awful mother", how can the state possibly know better than me?
The belief that all women want to be mothers -- even if we don't know it -- is rooted in the belief, again, that women are not fully human. No one would say a man does not know his own mind. No one would say, "Oh, sure. He doesn't want to be a father right now, but that'll change as soon as he sees that baby/the first time they put it in his arms." And when a man decides he cannot hold the burden of fatherhood and disappears, there isn't anyone going after him to drag him back into his child's life. It's almost expected that a man isn't going to want to be an active part in his children's life. (Which is an other post all together, because again, that's bullshit.)
Mostly, I'm pro-choice because I know women who've had abortions. I know women who have had multiple children. I know women who have had miscarriages. Simply, I know women. I know women and I know that we are capable of making intelligent, informed, often difficult decisions. The myth of the woman who aborts for fun? Bullshit. I've never known it to happen. I had a roommate in college who ended up pregnant. She was maybe 18. It was not the time for a child, so, she had an abortion. It wasn't an easy choice for her. In fact, it left her in tears, but it was what she felt she needed to do in order to have a decent life. I know women who have had six, seven, eight children. Each child was a wanted, loved child, who came into a family determined to make their lives good and decent. I've known women who had several miscarriage. I've known women who cannot have children of their own flesh, who have adopted instead. The common thread? They're all women. They're all fully-realized human beings making the best choices for their own lives, without state interference. They examined their lives, their minds, their beliefs and circumstances and made a choice -- to end a pregnancy, to attempt a pregnancy, to carry a pregnancy to term, to adopt a child as their own.
The right to make a choice -- fundamental human right, full stop. Whether I like the choices any individual woman makes is irrelevant. It's still her right to make that choice, to take on the consequences and responsbility of that decision. Because she's a human being, not a slave or child who needs the state to make her choices for her.