Monday, November 5, 2012

Why I am Pro Choice

I am pro choice for a lot of reasons, so I'll wade right into a big one. I am pro choice because I am a mom. I cherish my children and give them everything I possibly can, starting and ending with love. I was fortunate enough to find a partner who is a good father and provides well for all of us, allowing me to stay home and spend more time with my children. They have healthcare, access to a good education, good food to eat, and a solid roof over their heads. They are engaged in numerous enrichment activities, we travel with them, we take them to shows and museums and out into the world, we share our values and teach them to care for others, and we provide them with as much as we possibly can to help them grow into wonderful, caring adults. That makes me pro-choice because I see that these things are something every child should have. Every child should be wanted and loved and given a decent start in life, whether with biological parents or adoptive parents, a single parent or same-sex parents.

Some believe life begins at conception. Like the decision handed down in Roe v. Wade, I believe life begins at viability outside the womb, not at conception. (And that viability is getting earlier and earlier thanks to modern medicine.) If life begins at conception, then why not take it back a step and say every egg in a woman's body is a viable life, after all it's only the difference of one cell, so that anything preventing fertilization should be outlawed. (And believe me, there are politicians who are going there.) Well, keep going just one step further- how about laws so that every woman of childbearing age should be doing just that- bearing children, because all of those eggs were placed in her body and they should all have a chance. We should all be like Michelle Duggar and have "19 Kids and Counting". (She is someone I admire, don't get me wrong, but I don't know many other women who could have 19 kids!!!) Where does it end?

Let's now go back in time several decades, to the time when abortion was illegal in the United States. It's not a time I remember well; I was 10 when Roe v. Wade was decided, but I've read about it and heard it discussed. Prior to Roe v. Wade, women still sought abortions. They went to back alley butchers and frequently died, so we lost the baby and the woman. Even after Roe v. Wade, when unable to obtain a legal, safe abortion due to parental consent laws, teen girls like Becky Bell died. She was a 17 year old girl, just starting her life, only to have it cut short by an illegal, unsafe abortion. No baby, no Becky.

Then there is the religious aspect. I understand and respect that some people believe it is a sin to end a pregnancy. So, don't have an abortion. That's an absolutely wonderful choice for people who feel this way. But don't expect me to follow your religious laws. I don't believe in your religion, and I don't have to. Our constitution guarantees freedom of religion because our founding fathers knew what it meant to be governed by religion. England fought wars over which religion would be in control of the country- Protestant or Catholic. The Christian Taliban is a phrase that's been bandied about on the internet and it's not far off. The Taliban wants religious rule in their countries; the Christian right wants the same thing here. How horrific, in either case! Freedom of religion, as others have stated before me, also means freedom FROM religion. Again- I DO NOT believe in YOUR religion and I should not have to live under YOUR religious laws. You can live that way if you choose, and more power to you, but I don't have to. (And gay couples shouldn't have to either, but that's a post for another day.)

That goes for contraception, too. Healthcare should cover it, even if the healthcare is provided by a religious institution. After all, if their employees are good religious types, they won't actually use it or anything. And as for those "I don't want to pay for your contraceptives" types, well, I don't want to pay for your Viagra, either. Or your vasectomies, for that matter. Plus would you stop a minute and consider this- there are times when birth control pills are prescribed for purely medical reasons that have nothing to do with contraception. What then? Should insurance pay then? How will you differentiate? Gonna put little meters in the woman to see if she is really suffering from the medical difficulties she says she is? It's ridiculous.

It's not about the babies, either, in spite of what you might believe. If it were about the babies then every baby would have healthcare, and food, and a decent education once they are born, even if their parents are incapable of providing these things for them. There wouldn't be any children on adoption waiting lists. Foster care would be almost unnecessary. Many, many people have pointed out the irony in the Republican party platform- they care about the unborn but not the born.

Then there are the extremists. They are cropping up more and more lately, Todd Akin, for instance. Remember Todd? He's running for the senate in Missouri. He thinks women should be forced to bear children conceived from rape. So, a woman is living her life, minding her own business, keeping that aspirin between her knees, but she's raped. Maybe she's barely hanging on, supporting herself but not much left over, and now she's forced to have a baby she never asked for or wanted. Then, to add insult to injury, there are several states where the rapist-father gets parental rights! That's correct- the woman will have to see her child go off with a man she knows is a rapist. Now, let me ask you, on what planet is that OK? It's not this one, I'll tell you that. It's so wrong on so many levels I don't even have words.

I'm also pro-choice because I believe a woman's decisions about whether or not to have children at a given time are her own. Making abortion illegal is just another way to control women. Keep 'em barefoot and pregnant, and they won't be out there bothering the rest of the good old boys about things like equal pay and all that rot. Take away their right to decide what happens to their body and treat them like children, make them do what you think they should do.

Finally, what are the consequences? Say a woman gets an illegal abortion. Of course the practitioner is going to jail, but for how long? Then what about the woman? How long are you going to jail a desperate 16 year old who was too scared to carry a baby to term? How long are you going to jail a mom who already has kids, but feels she can't take care of another one because she's barely holding on already? How long will she be in jail, away from her children? Or are you just going to hang them, end it quick? What will the consequences be for women who want to make their own decisions?

Think it through, please.

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