Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blog For Choice Day

Today is the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

This is a topic that I have not spoken about to many people as I'm more of the kind of person who keeps my opinions about "hot-button" issues to myself. I respect other peoples opinions and hope they would extend the same courtesy. I will say in advance that this is MY blog. I will delete any comments that are derogatory, etc.

I am pro-choice. I have always supported a women's right to choose for as long as I can remember. I will not presume to put myself in someone else's shoes and make a decision for her. Abortion is not a black & white issue. I will not use my own personal experience/beliefs to tell another person they are "wrong." The issue of abortion is highly complex and the bumper sticker propaganda put forth by the anti-choice believers does not address that. This issue elicits such strong emotions, and most often discussions are heated. I ask you to talk with real people rather than preach to the masses, and that goes for both sides.

For me, pro-choice means that I support for women to be able to make choices about their own medical care without interference from the government or other parties.

Why am I pro-choice?
*I am pro-choice because my body is my own. It does not belong to anyone else.

*I am pro-choice because accidents do happen. And there is difficulty for many women with access to birth control, the morning after pill, etc. There are women who have used birth control that has failed, even when used properly.

*I am pro-choice for the abused women who's partners forced them into sex and face the obstacle of leaving an abusive relationship, mostly alone.

*I am pro-choice for the women who have been raped. Whether the woman did not go to the ER for whatever reason, for those denied access to emergency contraception, etc.

*I am pro-choice because many women face serious complications that make pregnancy a risk to their health, such as preeclampsia.

*I am pro-choice because I don't believe that women who discover they are pregnant unexpectedly are bad and deserve punishment.

*I am pro-choice because I see that some women have less access than other women to education, support, etc.

The fertility of a woman affects pretty much all aspects of her life: education, jobs, marriage, family, health (physical and emotional). I do think abortion is traumatic and would not wish it on anyone. However, I understand there are circumstances where it is the best choice for a particular individual. Having had an abortion does not make you an awful person. No matter the station, women do choose abortion for their own reasons. Married women, single women, mothers. I support each one of them.

The majority of abortions occur during the first trimester. The third trimester (late term abortion) that is talked about so much does occur less often. And most of those are done to save the life of the mother. I would think most women would not have a late term abortion unless it is absolutely necessary. There are women who have planned for their babies, and find out their baby has a serious health condition, or the fetus has died inutero. Whatever the reason, these women should have options. There are radio show hosts who believe there should be NO exceptions because then the issue becomes more muddled. One of them stated last year that a woman's life is almost "never" in danger during pregnancy. His entire statement made it clear to me that he is uneducated in pregnancy and women's reproductive systems. But yet, there he is spouting his beliefs about a topic he knows little about. Women DO lose their lives during pregnancy. I can come up with a list of women who's lives were at risk during their pregnancies due to preeclampsia, and some of them have been told not to have any more children...it's too risky. I trust each woman and her doctor to make an informed, viable decision.

In my previous work as an advocate for sexual assault victims, I have had to discuss all options available to them. It is not my job to tell them what to do, what I think, etc. I must present all options to them and support them in the decision they choose. A woman who has just been raped feels alone, and at times an advocate is the only person they have for support. Society blames them for dressing too sexy, for not saying "no" loud enough, and all the other bullshit reasons for guilt.

The right to choose is more than the legality of abortion. It's about the fact that women are losing their control over their own self. The pharmacy who refuse to fill a contraceptive. The doctor that turns his/her back on the patient and what's right for the patient. The insurance company who will not cover birth control pills, but pay for the male erectile dysfunction medication. This is oppression, it's forcing one person's agenda on another human being without any thought as to how or why the person needs help. It's forcing women back into a contained box again.

On the issue of abortion=birth control. Yes, there are women who unfortunately have used abortion as a method of birth control. However, once you actually start speaking with women who have had abortion, you will find that that is not the case for the majority. Abortion is not conveinent. It involves serious emotional turmoil and guilt. There are women who never deal with the fact they had an abortion, and some who live in denial they did. Abortion is a devastating decision to make. To say it's made without any forthought is insulting.

For me, I wish the anti-choicers would listen to women's stories. Why some are getting abortions, and how it is important to them. Not to lay the guilt trip, just listen, openly and respectfully. Look that woman in the eye who has just had her body violated, who has lost a child and almost her own life due to preeclampsia, who's baby has a terminal medical condition discovered in the womb. Abortion is an awful thing to have to go through, and making a woman feel guiltier about it doesn't help the situation. Many women who do make the decision to have an abortion grieve in strong fashion. She now has to do it privately as society will condemn her. Why can't we show love and support to a woman who has just likely made the most difficult decision of her life?

No comments: