Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why I'm Pro-Choice

It seems a little late for me to be writing this now, seeing as though I’ve been blogging here for a few years now. And reproductive justice should, I believe, be a goal for anyone who calls themselves a feminist. However, in having recently witnessed the large-scale “March for Life” anti-choice protest here in my adopted city, and therefore having been very publicly (and harshly) challenged on my view, I felt it important to spell it out.

I could make it snappy, à la Letterman and make it a top ten list, but I hope it doesn’t take that many reasons to make my point (and convince you).

I am Pro-Choice because…

1- I think bodily autonomy is a human right. I think that the right to control what one does and does not do with their body is a human right that should be accorded to all people. I think that once we take away someone’s bodily autonomy, we are going down a very slippery slope and quite frankly, I don’t want to see where it leads.

2- I think that pro-choice is the most democratic choice of all. As the old feminist adage goes, “If you can’t trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child?” I truly cannot understand how a democratic state/nation/territory/etc could have any other stance.

3- I believe that pro-choice is not pro-abortion. I know and love people who got pregnant unexpectedly and thought long and hard about their choices. In the end, they either chose abortion or they chose to keep the child. They weighed the options of adoption and in one particular case, seriously explored that option. But in the end, they chose what was right for them. None of these womyn regret their decisions. And I imagine that even if they did, they would have been grateful for the ability to choose what was right for them, whether they felt the same way about that decision or not.

4- Although I believe in the myriad of choices that the pro-choice stance includes, I am not naïve about adoption. Let me start off by saying that I know many people who are either adopted themselves or have siblings that are. I am a big supporter of adoption and an even bigger supporter of open adoption. I think adoption is one of many great choices for the pregnant womyn and the adoptive family. However, in speaking about adoption, I think it’s important to include a caveat about the realities of pregnant womyn and the adoption system. Anti-choicers are always quick to point to adoption as the ideal situation for an unexpected pregnancy. “You don’t have to raise the child and you are giving a gift to a family that is unable to conceive”. Sounds great, doesn’t it? And I’m sure it is for many, many people. Without getting into the pain and hardship that pregnant womyn must go through when deciding to give up their child to adoption (especially, I would argue, in closed adoption situations), I think the anti-choicers *surprise surprise* forget that choosing adoption is not as simple as giving birth to a happy awaiting adoptive family.

As a white, educated, able bodied womyn with a white, educated, able bodied partner, I am well aware that if I were to get pregnant today, I could have a wonderful, police checked couple (and possibly established family) waiting for me in 9 months to adopt my child. The truth is that people line up and wait years for newborn, white, able bodied children. If I were Aboriginal, disabled, uneducated, a substance abuser, etc, it is quite possible that my child would be in the “System” for quite some time before it possibly settled into a great home. Do I think this is fair? Hell fucking no. But by the same token, I don’t think it’s fair for me, as a privileged individual to make a broad statement like so many anti-choicers do, that adoption is a great choice awarded to all. That is not always the case.

5- One size does not fit all. Similar to the above point that adoption might work for me, but it might be a horrible idea for you. I might want an open adoption and seek to maintain some sort of contact with the child but you might need complete anonymity. I might have gotten pregnant through rape or coercion and you might have gotten pregnant in a loving and happy relationship. And so I’m going into my decision making with a different set of circumstances than you. Why should there be one cookie cutter solution for everyone?

6- It has been proven time and time again that when abortion is criminalized, womyn will continue to seek out abortion. And they’re not exactly getting prime care. Below are the number of people hospitalized for illegal abortions:

Bangladesh: 71,800
Brazil: 288,700
Chile: 31,900
Colombia: 57,700
Dominican Republic: 16,500
Egypt: 216,000
Mexico: 106,500
Nigeria: 142,200
Peru: 54,200
The Philippines: 80,100

7- I think that being anything else would put me in the crazy “pro-life” camp and those people are fucking scary. Need I say more?


C. Kins said...

Nice post! I'm curious about your idea of bodily far do you take it? Where does self-harm fit in? What about some people with disabilities who cannot completely move and control their bodies? I'm just trying to think through this concept - I'm sure it will be useful to me somewhere.

Feminist Catalyst said...

Great questions CK! I've been doing a lot of thinking about this lately, too.

What about anorexics who are force fed food? Clearly this is not about torture but about helping out.

As a pro-choice person, I still feel uncomfortable with womyn who drink/use drugs while pregnant. But doesn't that run against my giving each womyn complete free will and seeing a pregnant womyn and a fetus as one and the same?

It's not nearly as cut and dry as the issue seems. (Or as I'd like it to be!) Like the saying goes, abortion is not a black and white issue; there are many shades of grey.