Monday, April 19, 2010

Right to Choose

So I've decided to finally dive into that controversial mess that surrounds abortion because I am running into the issue everywhere, and am considering applying for an internship dealing with reproductive choice. We'll see what happens with that seeing as I hate committing to things and prefer to put off big life decisions much to the chagrin of myself and my parents. Anyway, here's my two cents; this is truly one of those things I could argue about for hours but I will do my best to keep this concise.

Abortion is one of the most frequently tossed around womens' issues because pregnancy belongs solely to women. I have battled with this issue over the years because there can be no denying that a life hangs in the balance. However, pro-life groups focus solely on this life that has not yet matured to a viable age, and their only concern is for the life of this fetus over everything else. Nobody is pro-abortion; nobody is out there asking all pregnant women to kill their fetuses to improve the world. What I am for however, is a woman's right to control her own body. A woman has every right to decide whether she wants to devote her body to a fetus for 9 months, and then possibly to a child for the rest of her life. A baby is a huge responsibility and not every woman is prepared to handle that - she has a right to make that decision.

Encouraging adoption over abortion does not eliminate the fact that this woman is going to be greatly affected for the next 9 months of her life, and it is her decision whether or not she wants her life to change. There has been a debate on my favorite Feministing blog lately over the "Abortion Changes You" ads in NY which elicited a blogger's critique of Feministing over their support for abortion out of convenience. The women at Feministing replied the same way I do - why shouldn't women get abortions out of convenience?! Isn't it a woman's right to choose her education and career options and to prioritize her life goals? Shouldn't that mean she can decide when and if she wants to have a child? It is not necessarily a question of whose life is worth more, but whether she wants to compromise her life for a fetus she does not want. A woman has a right to her own chance at self-improvement instead of falling into a dead-end job because instead of going to college she has to take care of a baby.

At my university in the fall there was a huge anti-choice display in the mall area comparing abortion to the genocide of the Jews in WWII with graphic pictures of fetuses and concentration camps. This was an outrage. I do not know what groups were in charge of this display, but it was offensive to Holocaust (and indeed any genocide) survivors and their families, women who had abortions, and people like myself who realized their assertion was unfounded and disgusting. Genocide, as defined by the genocide convention after WWII, is defined as the purposeful extermination of a portion of a population based on ethnicity, race, religion, etc. The definition has its complexities, but in no interpretation can abortion be seen as genocide. So not only was I offended by the grotesque images I was subjected to, but also by their false assumptions.

If you want to argue abortion is murder, I can accept that. However, murder is truly not the issue at hand, the issue in question is a woman's control of her own body. Nobody can regulate the rest of her bodily functions or what she choose to put in or take out of her body. A woman can crash diet, she can get plastic surgery, she can choose to live off of McDonald's, she can use tampons, she can give blood, she can take vitamins, she can use birth control, she can take fertility treatments. If nothing else about her body is regulated and fought over, why can she not decide to have a baby or not without being vilified and condemned? A woman has the right to be able to choose what to do with her body, and she has the right to legal and safe abortions. Pathologizing abortion will only force it underground where more blood will be shed, so even the "value of life" argument falls short.

While there are valid points to the pro-life faction, there is a difference between being pro-life, and being anti-choice. Thinking about ending the life of an individual, even of a partially developed fetus, makes me queasy. I do not support violence or murder; I am pro-life. When it comes to abortion however, I am pro-choice.

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