Respecting Women’s Choices: Why I Am Pro-Choice & Proud!

This was from about five months ago; I’m not sure about the exact date because I updated the file before taking it down. All I had down was an outline and a few sentences!

*******

I call them anti-choice advocates because that is what they are. Some people claim this is the same as them calling me anti-life, but its not. Its not because I am pro-life, who isn’t? I think senseless killing is wrong; which is why I am a pacifist, I care about animal rights, about anti-violence initiatives,  and about gun-control. You know what I’m not about, though? Controlling other women’s bodies and lives.

If faced with a pregnancy I’m honestly not sure if I would adopt or carry to term, my own feelings about conception, life, and adoption are far too complex for me to ever know how I would react to this situation (only being in the situation, honestly, would let me know.) However, regardless of the choices I would make, I respect other women far too much to try and force my own choices, my own views, onto them.

That’s why I’m pro-choice. I don’t like the idea of abortion but, even more than that, I don’t like the idea of a world where a pregnant woman is not in control of her own body and not allowed to make decisions about whats forming inside of her body.

abortioncartoon2This political cartoon, a piece of cultural crap as far as I’m concerned, exemplifies the perception problems we have in America concerning Pro-Choice. Honestly? I have never met a single person – female or male, pro-choice or anti-choice – who enjoyed the idea of abortions. No one wants to get into a position where an abortion is necessary – and yet all too often people who believe in choice and the right for a woman to be in control of what is growing inside f her own body are depicted as blood-hungry, rabid lunatics who lie, pressure, etc. to convince women to get abortions. Obviously this is not the truth.

Pro -choice does not just mean defending a woman’s right to choose abortion, however. For many people, myself included, being pro-choice means being tireless advocates for the many programs and infrastructure projects that allow all women to have a choice about reproduction, including comprehensive sexual education, easily available contraception, resources for expectant mothers, reasonable maternity and paternity leave, affordable childcare, and reproductive counselors who provide women with all of the unbiased information that they need to make a decisions about their own lives (that is to say, I’m against “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” and other places that have motives to steer women towards a particular decision.)

Here’s a really extreme example to illustrate what I, personally, work towards through my pro-choice advocacy:

Tessa Savicki, mother of nine, was recently forcibly sterilized by a doctor that she had gone to see for an IUD (article via Jezebel.) This was done because she had already mothered nine children, by a few different men, and the doctor felt that she should not have ny more children and, thus, steralization was necessary. Now, while I personally do not think that Savicki getting pregnant again would most likely turn out well for her, or her children, I acknowledge that my opinion about her situation does not give me the right to make any decision for her. Why? Because its her body. This is a distinction that Tessa’s doctor clearly failed to make.

Similarly, and just as frustrating, many women seeking permanent sterilization are turned down by doctors each year simple because the doctor feels that they might change their mind.

The case of emergency contraception can also be looked at in making this argument: did you know that Plan B was held up by the FDA for years because certain administrators felt it might lead to teen sex cults. Its horrifying to know that my government would rather hold back safe and helpful medical advancements then work towards educating teenage women in a way that leads them to being safe and responsible about sex. This is what I’m talking about, in a nutshell; the anti-choice movement works tirelessly to limit the options available to women when it comes to reproductive health, as a method of control. Of course different people within the movement have different motivations but in the end, it all comes down to one thing: forcing their own morality on an entire, diverse, population by legally limiting women’s options.

“We could not anticipate, or prevent extreme promiscuous behaviors such as the medication taking on an ‘urban legend’ status that would lead adolescents to form sex-based cults centered around the use of Plan B.”

– Janet Woodcock, former FDA Deputy Operations Comissioner

The movement doesn’t always stick to legal and honest methods for imposing their limits, either. Just take a look at this feministing article from earlier today:

“The blogger at Everysaturdaymorning, a pro-choice clinic escort in Louisville, KY, has posted pictures and video of the latest disgusting tactic from the antis outside their clinic: wearing fake escort vests.

Escorts wear bright orange vests that say things like “Pro-Choice Clinic Escort” in an attempt to clearly identify ourselves to patients. Even so, the space outside a clinic where anti-choicers have gathered can be incredibly confusing for patients, those accompanying them, and even passers by on the street. Some protesters simply stand off to the side and pray. I don’t like the atmosphere of shame they create, but it’s the antis we call chasers or sidewalk stalkers who cause the biggest problems. They will do almost anything to harass people going in and out of a reproductive health clinic, which is why pro-choice escorts are necessary – we’re not protesters, we’re just trying to make it possible for women to access abortion and other medical care. Interactions happen so quickly, and the milieu outside a clinic can be so confusing for someone who didn’t expect to be harassed by ideologues on her way to the doctor, that we already have to work hard to make it clear who works with the clinic and who is trying to get in a patient’s way.”

At the end of the day, regardless of the methods employed by either side of the reproductive rights battle, what it all comes down to is respecting women; something that anti-choice advocates do not do.

Pro-choice advocates respect women enough to trust them with the information and the freedom that they need to control their own bodies; whereas people who advocate against reproductive rights often give off the distinctive notion that they do not feel women are intelligent or strong enough to take control of their own bodies. Just take a look at some of the ridiculously paternalistic abortion laws in place today like mandatory wait periods that assume women need time to force them to consider their decision, as if they hadn’t done so before entering the clinic; or mandatory ultrasounds that imply women seeking abortions do not understand what they are trying to remove from their uterus.  For me, being pro-choice is the only stance I could ever take because I trust myself, and all adult women, to be responsible enough to  make their own choices about birth control, abortion, and so on; and I respect them enough to want to join in the fight to protect our freedom of choice and our right to helpful, unbiased information about our bodies.

True, people aren’t always going to make choices that I think are wise, or that I agree with… but that’s the point, I don’t have to agree with their choices and they don’t have to agree with mine, so long as we are free to live our own lives out. This is why I feel it is perfectly possible to be personally anti-abortion (not that I am, at all), but pro-choice all the same; all it takes it acknowledging that your belief system does not necessarily need to be applied to everyone else.

If anti-choice advocates are going to paint me and my peers in this light then I believe, at the very least, I have the right to call them what they truly are: anti-choice.

4 thoughts on “Respecting Women’s Choices: Why I Am Pro-Choice & Proud!

  1. You said … “That’s why I’m pro-choice. I don’t like the idea of abortion but, even more than that, I don’t like the idea of a world where a pregnant woman is not in control of her own body and *** not allowed to make decisions about whats forming inside of her body.” *** …

    So, to one woman it could be a baby, but to another it could be a lifeless blob of tissue? I don’t see how that’s a defendable position from a logical point of view. That’s like saying, “it’s true for you, but not for me,” or, “there is no such thing as truth!”

    To that I respond … is that true?

    In DENYING absolute truth, you actually AFFIRM it.

    What is growing inside of a woman is either a baby or not. You can’t have it both ways.

    I believe in choice, too. A woman can choose to have sex without birth control. She can choose to have sex with a loser. She can choose to wait until she’s married. She can choose to wait until she can afford a child. Or she can choose to place her child up for adoption. I do not believe a woman has a choice to kill the child growing inside of her. That’s murder. No getting around it.

    Call me anti-choice if you want. I would rather be labeled “anti-choice” than stand by as ignorant women choose to kill the life inside of them because pro-choice advocates such as yourself deny what’s growing inside is a child. All you have to do is look at any fetal development photos to know it’s not some lifeless blob if tissue.

    Signed,
    A Proud Anti-Choicer

  2. A fetus is not a baby until it is born. At the point where the majority of abortions take place that fetus is simply a bunch of cells with the potential to grow into the baby (and, of course, the potential to miscarry and never become anything as well.) Abortions that happen when the fetus actually looks like a baby are nearly always done to a pregnancy that is high risk – either the fetus or the mother, sometimes both, will most likely not survive if this surgery is not done.

    I don’t like the idea of abortion because I would much rather people not be put in that position. Regardless of how you feel about abortion it is a crummy situation, because of the judgment that so many people will place onto a woman who has chosen one. That said, I am grateful to live in a country where safe and legal abortions are available (albeit only to a privileged portion of the population who can afford them.)

    Birth control can fail. Losers can masquerade as nice guys. Some women end up pregnant from consensual sex with birth control and everything, some women end up pregnant because neither they nor their partner recieved the sex education they would need to make risk-reducing choices, some MARRIED women have unwanted pregnancies, some women are raped and wind up pregnant, some women have pregnancies that they want more than ANYTHING aborted because the fetus inside of them cannot survive/is threatening their own life… there is a different, unique reason behind each abortion which is why we NEED
    choice. Without this choice many women would end up dead (either of complications to pregnancy, at the hand of an abusive partner, at their own hand, in a back-alley abortion.

    Hope that cleared up any confusion I may have created.

  3. I would like to address some of the issues you brought up separately just to make sure I don’t skip over anything. YOUR STATEMENTS will be (+) MY RESPONSES will be (-). Since this is a little bit long (because I address each issue separately) and because I took the time into writing, what I hope is a thoughtful response, I only ask you take the same amount of time to consider my answers and really think about the objections I raise before you respond …

    + A fetus is not a baby until it is born. At the point where the majority of abortions take place that fetus is simply a bunch of cells with the potential to grow into the baby (and, of course, the potential to miscarry and never become anything as well.)

    – The problem is, you also are, “just a bunch of cells.” So am I. You may be more developed than a human fetus, but that doesn’t mean the fetus is any less human than you, just less developed. If it’s wrong to murder an innocent, fully-grown blob of cells, it’s just as wrong to kill an innocent, less-developed blob of cells. Not to put words in your mouth, but just incase you were going to say it … humans aren’t tumors! There is a big difference between killing a bunch of cells that would develop into a fully-grown human being and a bunch of cells that would develop into a malignant tumor. I am hoping you can see the difference.

    + Abortions that happen when the fetus actually looks like a baby are nearly always done to a pregnancy that is high risk – either the fetus or the mother, sometimes both, will most likely not survive if this surgery is not done.

    – The fetus looks like a baby by week 6. By week 5 the heart is beating. This is when most abortions are preformed. If the issue for you is development, then you should be against all abortions which the mothers life is not in immediate risk because by week 6 it looks human, and before week 6, even if it is just a bunch of cells, that in no way makes it less human, just less developed, as I said above ^. http://www.pregnancy.org/fetaldevelopment/week-five. http://www.pregnancy.org/fetaldevelopment/week-six

    If you’re referring to partial birth abortion then my answer would be, as a physician everything should be done to save the life of the mother AND child, not one or the other, but each case should be evaluated individually.

    + I don’t like the idea of abortion because I would much rather people not be put in that position. Regardless of how you feel about abortion it is a crummy situation, because of the judgment that so many people will place onto a woman who has chosen one. That said, I am grateful to live in a country where safe and legal abortions are available (albeit only to a privileged portion of the population who can afford them.)

    – I, too, don’t like the idea of abortion and would much rather people not be put in that position. The solution is: don’t have sex with a person whose not your spouse, choose a potential spouse with great care (both guys and girls), use birth control, and if you do happen to get pregnant and cannot afford to take care of the child or you just don’t want him, find someone who can and does. That would solve the majority of this mess, since most people who get abortions are single parents, anyway.

    This may shock you, but I don’t believe poor people should have children. I think it’s perfectly logical to say, if you wouldn’t walk into a puppy store and buy a dog that you couldn’t afford to take care of, you shouldn’t have children you can’t take care of.

    The solution is more than one dimensional. It’s a social problem, really. Not to get off on a tangent, but I think one of the problems is, men aren’t men anymore. It’s said the majority of minority women are single parents. Children raised without their fathers are at a significant disadvantage: socially, economically and in every way. They are more likely to drop out of school, become criminals, commit suicide, get pregnant or get a girl pregnant, …etc.

    Men need their fathers, and they need to learn how to be good fathers. Likewise, girls need their Daddies and they need to learn to spot a suitable father for their children. It’s very difficult to do any of those things if you’ve never had a father or a male role model in your life, boy or girl. But none of the solutions are going to happen until men become men and step up to the plate. As a man, I think it would be unimaginable not to be present in my child’s life if I got a woman pregnant. That’s my legacy.

    You also said you’re grateful to live in a country where … abortions are legal … to the privileged portion of the population who can afford them. … Maybe you were unaware, but Planned Parenthood was started so poor, minority women wouldn’t have abortions. Some of their very first clinics were located in the poorest parts of town. Planned Parenthood receives hundreds of millions of dollars from the government to fund abortions to women who otherwise would not be able to afford them, be it a good thing or a bad thing, so I don’t know why you say abortions are only available to the privileged portion of the population who can afford them.

    + Birth control can fail. Losers can masquerade as nice guys. Some women end up pregnant from consensual sex with birth control and everything, some women end up pregnant because neither they nor their partner recieved the sex education they would need to make risk-reducing choices, some MARRIED women have unwanted pregnancies, some women are raped and wind up pregnant, some women have pregnancies that they want more than ANYTHING aborted because the fetus inside of them cannot survive/is threatening their own life… there is a different, unique reason behind each abortion which is why we NEED choice. Without this choice many women would end up dead (either of complications to pregnancy, at the hand of an abusive partner, at their own hand, in a back-alley abortion.

    – I’m surprised to hear you say birth control can fail. I don’t know of many pro-choicers who would say that. I’m going over some of the other things you said in your long paragraph, don’t take offense if I give brief responses …

    Losers can masquerade as nice guys? … Depends on your definition of a loser. A guy with no job or no career, no savings, no car, no house or apt., …etc. can’t fake being a millionaire. But I’ll give it to you, because again, it’s a social problem.

    Some women end up pregnant because of a lack of sex-ed? … I still find it surprising in 2010 people don’t know boy+girl=baby … I honestly doubt people are that stupid, though, too me it’s a social problem of men not living up to their responsibilities and women not choosing suitable men as fathers before they have children or even before they have sex.

    Married women have unwanted pregnancies? … A lot of unmarried women have the same. But is “unwanted” the condition of the child or the attitude of the adult(s) (since fathers often encourage abortion as well) … There are countless couples wanting to adopt.

    Raped … I can absolutely, 100% sympathize with a woman in this position, even though I disagree with the choice of abortion, even in this instance for a few reasons: 1.) Two wrongs don’t make a right. 2.) The aborted child is just as innocent as the raped woman.

    Because the pregnancy of threatening their life? … I addressed this above.

    In closing, I just want to say one thing. A lot of pro-lifers are looked down on by pro-choicers as dumb, ignorant, poor, pathetic, unsympathetic, zealots, …etc. The question I ask you is, if you believed abortion was ending the life of a human begin (regardless of its stage of development) wouldn’t you stand out in front of an abortion clinic with a sign … even if you looked like some dumb, ignorant, poor, pathetic, unsympathetic zealot? I’m certainly not saying pro-lifers can do no wrong! I’m just asking a question to see if you can sympathize where I’m coming from.

    Likewise, I can sympathize where you are coming from as well. You just want people to have the freedom to choose. I’m all for that. I believe you should have the freedom to do whatever it is you want to do … as long as your personal choices aren’t imposed on someone else.

    Abortion is a choice made on behalf of the woman (sometimes from choice, sometimes from ignorance, sometimes from pressure) that’s imposed on an innocent being, just as rape is a choice imposed on an innocent woman.

    Both are wrong. Saying you are anti-rape is no more saying you are anti-choice than saying you are pro-life. In this case, the issue isn’t choice, it’s life.

  4. Thank you for your lengthy, well thought out response. Sorry it didn’t go up right away; it got held up in moderation because the length made WordPress suspicious and I was away for the weekend. I tried to respond point-by-point with just as much thought and detail as you did but forgive me if there are not my best writing, I am exhausted at the moment…

    + There’s a huge difference between a mass of undifferentiated cells and a developed human being. Yes, I am also made up of cells – but my cells are all divided into purposes, they allow me to think, feel, and sustain life on my own. I refuse to put a bunch of cells that would potentially become a human being under the right circumstances on the same level as an already born, feeling, and aware human being. I’m not calling zygotes or fetuses tumors, I am simply making a distinction just as we make a distinction between individual sperm/eggs, fertilized eggs, etc.

    + I did not choose my words carefully enough in the second point, I apologize. (Though I would hardly call that human looking, it looks like an alien at best.) Personally, I don’t care what the fetus looks like; the factors that matter to me are the rights of the woman (a fully formed human being) vs. the rights of the zygote/fetus. I won’t apologize for that fact that I will always, always, always side with the fully formed human being who has consciousness and a life that will be affected by this pregnancy. If a fetus is aborted it has no idea that it was aborted – it feels no remorse, regret, or pain because it is not developed yet.

    + As much as I don’t like the idea of anyone having to deal with the not-fun procedure and judgment that often accompanies an abortion, I like the idea of people’s sex lives being policed even less. I know we will never agree here but I see NO ISSUE with women and men enjoying consensual sex in whatever context they feel comfortable with. Sex can be pleasurable on so many levels, and I would never judge another human being for their sexual choices… I think your mentality of prevention is dangerous for many reasons: it erases people who don’t believe in marriage, it encourages an abstinence-only education mentality that leads many teens (and adults) to be ignorant about sex and unable to minimize their risks as a result, and it ignores the sad reality that many people cannot afford the medical costs related to pregnancy (putting adoption out of grasp as well as parenting) for starters.

    + Just as I don’t think anyone should be judged for choosing an abortion, I also don’t think anyone should be judged for choosing to parent… not even poor people. If we had a welfare system in this country that actually WORKED to support people while they need it while helping them to gain the skills and opportunities that they need to get off of welfare… then this wouldn’t be an issue. I think EVERYONE deserves the right to a family, if they want one, and I strongly believe that the United States needs to rethink the way we view poverty and welfare to allow for a frame of mind that better helps people to escape the cycle of poverty.

    + I’m reluctant to blame men for this problem. Yes, there are shitty people in this world but not all men are crappy people and not all women are saints. Plus, many children raised in single-parent homes turn out just fine (and single parent homes exist for MANY reasons other than abandonment as well; like the death of a spouse, enlistment, etc.)

    + I think what you meant to say is that: “Planned Parenthood was started so poor, minority women WOULD have abortions.” You said wouldn’t but, since that doesn’t mesh with what you said before and after I am going to assume you meant would. I have actually done a bunch of research on Planned Parenthood and the beginnings of the birth control movement. Planned Parenthood DID start mostly in underprivileged and minority areas, yes, but not because the organization wanted to push impoverished women to get abortions. This logic is wrong for many reasons:

    1) Planned Parenthood focuses on women’s health – not just abortions. Sliding-scale clinics targeted in low-income areas allow women who would not necessarily be able to afford gynecological exams, mammograms, prenatal care, birth control, and (yes) even abortions the chance to access that medical care. As someone who believes that EVERYONE should have access to affordable healthcare, I see that as a very noble aim.

    2) The Hyde Amendment ensures that government money cannot go to abortions: this is why PP still charges a fairly high amount of money (often prohibitively high) for abortions, this is why private charitable funds have to be set up to help sexual assault survivors who need abortions, this is why PP in many states cannot even offer abortions, because if they did (and lost funding) then they wouldn’t even be able to stay open and provide their other services to the community.

    + I’m not a liar: birth control CAN fail, but if you use it correctly then there is a very, very small chance of that happening… it’s why I use the term safER sex, instead of safe sex. There’s always a risk to doing it (no matter your age, marital status, whatever) but that risk can be DRASTICALLY minimized with a bit of effort.

    You said: “Some women end up pregnant because of a lack of sex-ed? … I still find it surprising in 2010 people don’t know boy+girl=baby … I honestly doubt people are that stupid, though, too me it’s a social problem of men not living up to their responsibilities and women not choosing suitable men as fathers before they have children or even before they have sex.”

    After teaching sex education seminars to many of my college-aged peers all I can say is… you’d be surprised. Some people think that you can’t get pregnant if the woman is on top, because of gravity. Some people believe that doubling up on condoms doubles the protection instead of creating friction that creates breaks, some people don’t know about pre-cum and therefore put way more faith in the withdrawal method than they should, some people think that condoms can be reused… you get the point. All very silly misconceptions that are cleared up with a little bit of education… it’ just too bad that education isn’t uniform and supported BEFORE teenagers start having sex.

    + As for the rest, we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I think my answers above indicate how I feel about women (ESPECIALLY survivors of sexual assault) being given no choice but to carry a pregnancy that they do not want to term. The emotional and physical investment that a woman has to make into a pregnancy means, to me, that the woman should have the choice of either making that investment or not. I’m a psychology major so I have very strong feelings about mental health but, regardless, I think it is meaningful that some women’s sanity are at stake here… that can’t be overlooked.

    I can sympathize where you’re coming from and a lot of our disagreement stems from what we believe constitutes a life, I get that, but at the same time I am frustrated by zealous anti-choicers who advocate policies that they KNOW will lead to dead women, in order to defend what they see as innocent lives. Knowing that, unless I fight, women will die in back alley abortions, or in hospitals that refuse to treat them because of a fetus that they also refuse to abort, or at the hand of an abusive partner who they feel obligated to stay with because of their pregnancy, or at the hands of parents enraged to find out that their daughter is sexually active… you get it. Knowing that fully conscious and functioning women with lives, passions, friends, family, maybe even children will DIE if abortions were to be made illegal again makes me just as passionate as the people on the other side who also believe that their fight is the righteous one. I get that but, at the same time, I can’t help but be hurt by the fact that an anti-choice person would value the life of a fetus over the lives of women like me.

    It’s life or death for my side too; beyond that, I don’t know what more I can say to you.

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