Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blog for Choice Day

It's important to vote pro-choice and, if you can afford it, support organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL by donating or volunteering.

As Bitch Ph.D. put it a few years ago, being pro-choice is about trusting women to make the decisions that are right for them:

When pro-choice feminists like Wolf, or liberal men, or a lot of women, even, say things like, "I'm pro-choice, but I am uncomfortable with... [third-trimester abortion / sex-selection / women who have multiple abortions / women who have abortions for "convenience" / etc.]" then what you are saying is that your discomfort matters more than an individual woman's ability to assess her own circumstances. That you don't think that women who have abortions think through the very questions that you, sitting there in your easy chair, can come up with. That a woman who is contemplating an invasive, expensive, and uncomfortable medical procedure doesn't think it through first. In short, that your judgment is better than hers.

Think about the hubris of that. Your judgment of some hypothetical scenario is more reliable than some woman's judgment about her own, very real, life situation?

And you think that's not sexist? That that doesn't demonstrate, at bottom, a distrust of women? A blindness to their equality? A reluctance to give up control over someone else's decision?

I don't hear other people expressing this concept much, but it resonates with me. Trust women. Trust women. It's that simple.

Another aspect of the abortion issue is deeply personal: A law like the one the South Dakota legislators enacted (that the citizens of South Dakota wisely overturned) says that my life is crap. If I were to have a contraceptive failure and wind up pregnant, I would absolutely get an abortion because of the serious risk to my health that a pregnancy would entail. It wouldn't necessarily be life-threatening, but it would damage an organ to the point that I'd need a transplant. And it wouldn't be a healthy pregnancy—it would drastically interfere with my ability to parent my child, and if I made it to a live birth, it'd be a sickly preemie. The South Dakota legislature had zero regard for my well-being, so you know what? I need not accord their opinions (or those of other anti-choice activists) the slightest bit of respect. Those who would hasten my demise can go to hell.

I always vote for candidates with strong pro-choice beliefs and a solid record of supporting women's reproductive freedom. If you're not sure you'll do the same, please read my friend Jay's enumeration of reasons to vote pro-choice. She says it better than I can.

Edited to add: Ding covers the financial impact of restrictive abortion laws on women, particularly poor women, and reminds us that the next president will likely be appointing two or three Supreme Court justices. Just one more judge hand-picked by a Republican, and Roe v. Wade is likely to go down the tubes. With a Democratic president, Roe v. Wade's constitutionality is likely to be upheld.


Anonymous said...

Yes. Yes to all you said, yes to all Jay said. Thank you.


Mona Buonanotte said...

Damn straight, sister! If we aren't trusted to make decisions about our own bodies, how can we be trusted to raise babies? Huh? I have to shut up now before I get my soapbox out. Great post, Orange!

RH said...

This doesn't ring true for me.

I am pro-choice, but I am uncomfortable with late-term abortions. I don't believe that my discomfort should be enacted in law, and I'm opposed to limits on abortions because I think they victimize exactly the people you identify, but I think I would make a personal decision not to abort a fetus at 7 months or later (arbitrary line, as always.)

The pro-choice discussion always hinges on the straw-man argument I see above, that the pro-lifers want to control a woman's choices. And many of them do.

But give some people with reservations the benefit of the doubt: if one honestly believes that a nine-month fetus is a baby, simply separated from the world by a placenta and an inch or two of tissue, then to just kill it is, in fact, infanticide.

If a mother kills her day-old child, I don't give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that her judgement should trump mine, under most circumstances. Instead, I support a law that calls this murder. The fact that I can imagine circumstances where it would be justified (the child is in a great deal of pain, will die a horrible death soon, etc.) doesn't mean that I just abandon the effort to make such a law.

The actual debate should be over where the line is between a mass of cells in a woman's body, and an independent baby. And I don't know how to solve it. But it seems insulting (and counterproductive) to minimize the moral qualms of people who honestly believe that aborting a fetus that could survive independently is equivalent, or almost equivalent, to killing a baby. And assuming that all of them simply want to control women is a bit demeaning.

Orange said...

RH, I think your arguments are straw men. How much of an issue are non-medically-indicated very-late-term abortions? Roe v. Wade didn't give the go-ahead for elective abortions at 27 to 40 weeks. The abortions that occur then are almost always for sad medical reasons. Healthy fetuses are almost never aborted after the point of viability.

Although if the anti-choicers keep hammering away at reproductive choice, we'll see more and more pregnant women who are unable to get an abortion in the 6- to 10-week range. Which, of course, is exactly what the anti-choicers want—to make it so damned difficult that women are stuck giving birth to unwanted babies.

Also, nobody's saying it's OK to kill newborns.

If you are pregnant, you get to decide where your personal cutoff is between "glob of cells" and "baby." It's not a scientific determination (it just isn't), so nobody's got the right to tell me where my cutoff is. It circles right back to Bitch Ph.D.'s "trust women"—trust women to make that determination for themselves. Everyone else, butt out.

RH said...

Sorry to rile you... seriously, it wasn't intentional. I try to inject non-black-and-white thinking into this stuff occasionally, and it never goes well. You think I'd learn.

Clearly, you're working in the "give them an inch they'll take a mile" paradigm. I think, in an ideal world, I'd like to concede that I'm ok giving them a centimeter, i.e. something like a law making illegal abortions at 36 weeks and later, where the health of neither mother nor fetus is in any way compromised. Of course you're right that this doesn't occur much, but I don't see other laws becoming shelved simply because the crime doesn't come up much.

You're right that the religious right isn't actually after a compromise, which is why I don't believe anything like this can be legislated (nor do I support such). It's more a thought experiment on my part, I guess, and an attempt to expand the tent a little to include some people who lean pro-choice, but have reservations on the edges.

Dentist Fort Myers said...

Yeah, just enjoy it!