Today is the 5th annual "Blog for Choice" day. Although I'm not officially involved—after all, abortion is legal where I live, and access to it is not generally impeded by financial considerations—I thought I'd offer my thoughts about why I'm pro-choice.
Because you know what? I am pro-choice, though not explicitly pro-abortion. I'm pro-choice because I believe that nobody has a right to define what a woman can and cannot do with her own body. I'm pro-choice because I believe that no woman should be forced to bear a child if she does not want to do so, whether her reasons are physical or mental. I'm pro-choice because I know that history shows that in times when abortions are illegal, women who want or even need them can and will find ways to have them anyway. The richer ones will simply travel to someplace where it is legal, if they can; the poorer ones will risk long-term damage or disease—or perhaps even death—and possible prosecution via a "back-alley abortion".
I'm pro-choice because I believe that women are capable of making logical, rational decisions about their own health and lives, and no anti-choice rhetoric about "abortion stops a beating heart", "your baby could grow up to be the next Great Leader of the World" or even the old favourite, "what if your mother had decided to abort you?" is going to change my mind. Even for women who can access good health care, pregnancy and childbirth are not without their dangers, particularly for women who have long-term illnesses or injuries. And the healing process after the birth, whether the baby was born vaginally or though a C-section, can be difficult—something which is no doubt exacerbated by the fact that maternity leave is inhumanely short in most places. No woman should be forced to go through pregnancy and childbirth if she doesn't want to. I trust women to be able to decide whether it's a good idea for them to have children.
I have always been pro-choice, even in the days when I was devoutly Catholic. It's one of the biggest beefs that I still have with my former Church, and part of one of the reasons why I left it all those years ago—their disrespectful and condescending attitude towards women. It's not up to anyone to make a woman's health care decisions for her unless she is incapable of doing so herself, and I believe that reproductive health care is no exception to this. Furthermore, I believe that anyone who seeks to rob women of the right to make their own decisions about whether or not to have an abortion is barely a step away from deciding that women are incapable of making other logical and rational decisions—just look at the case of Samantha Burton, a Florida woman who was forced into bed rest when she showed signs of miscarriage. Although she had to hold down a job and take care of two toddlers, she was confined to a hospital bed and ordered by the state courts (acting on a tip from her doctor, who notified them before she had a chance to seek a second opinion) to submit to any and all treatments ordered by her doctor, who claimed to be acting on the fetus' best interests. They even refused to let her move to another hospital. The only thing that saved her from being stuck there for fifteen weeks was that three days later she had to have an emergency C-section; when they performed it, they found that the fetus was dead.
I am not explicitly pro-abortion, because I don't think that I would ever have one myself unless my life was in some way endangered by pregnancy—say, for example, that implantation took place in one of my fallopian tubes rather than in my uterus. Ectopic pregnancies can be deadly. But though I probably wouldn't have an abortion myself, I do not believe that other women should be forced by law to make the same decision that I would make should I find myself (very) unexpectedly pregnant. I believe that no choices should be forced—forced choices aren't really choices at all. I believe that women have the right to decide whether or not to have children. I believe that women should have control over what happens to our own bodies.
I believe in trusting women to make the right choice—and in the concept that "the right choice" in this matter will not always be the same for every woman. This is why I am pro-choice, and why I doubt I'll ever cease to be. Women, by and large, are not stupid creatures who need to be led down "the right path" by other people who think they know what's best for us.
In Virginia, people can order specialty license plates that say "Trust Women, Trust Choice." These aren't empty words; they are the best possible advice that one could hear in any debate about abortion. Trust women. We're the ones who have to live with our bodies and what goes on in them. Trust choice. Most women are actually pretty smart, and most of us are capable of making logical and rational decisions, despite society's opinion that we're a slave to our hormones and our emotions. The possibility that we might regret it later on is not an adequate reason to deny us the choice in the first place; for most people, life is full of choices. Some are good, some are bad, most are in between; we don't even always get to know the result of the choices we've made right away. That's the nature of choice, and the risk that we take when we make any choice. Abortion, in my mind, is no different except that it's been blown up to such a ridiculously large scale. But I trust women, and I trust in our ability to make choices.
And in the end, that is why I'm pro-choice.