So, January 22 was Blog for Choice Day, and aside from a slight gripe about the US-centrism of the choice of date (the anniversary of Roe v. Wade), talking about the importance of reproductive freedom is, well, important. And there’s a bunch of excellent posts that were made.
And hey, I’ve never been good with dates and deadlines that don’t involve grades, and all that better late than never stuff, so I’m going to start off with something a bit more personal. Particularly since this year’s topic was ‘Why you’re pro-choice’
Really, the list of reasons why I support reproductive freedom is pretty damn long, and much of it is covered by some of the wonderful people below, so I’m just going to outline a few, some of which are quite personal.
I support reproductive freedom because it reduces the number of children who grow up feeling as unwanted as I did. I grew up being told on a biweekly basis for about eight years that I wasn’t wanted, and that’s not counting how many times I was shown the same. I don’t know how many other six year olds have been told, or shown, with such regularity just how unwanted they are, but I’m certain that it’s many more than I’d like, or anyone should like.
I support reproductive freedom because I think it’s an insult to the wonderful mothers I know to think that motherhood is merely a duty or some kind of punishment for having sex. Hell, I think it’s an insult to children to think that they’re a punishment.
I support reproductive freedom because seeing pregnancy as some kind of punishment for not having ‘foolproof’ sex, even if one supports the right to not choose motherhood (I’m looking at the adoption-not-abortion folks, here) obscures the real risks of pregnancy to women’s well-being, obscures the quandries related to adoption, and really, is just kind of hateful. Because treating pregnancy as such means that only women are to be punished for the lack of ‘foolproof’ sex. And I’m just not down with that.
I support reproductive freedom because I think restricting the choices available to women with regards to their own reproduction and their own bodies, denies them a fundamental aspect of personhood, and displays a disturbing mistrust of women. And when I talk about restricting choices, I mean that I think forced pregnancy, forced abortion, forced birthing-method, forced sterilisation, denial of access to birth control, etc., are wrong. Because, regardless of what anti-choicers keep saying, being pro-choice isn’t just about abortion. It’s about trusting women to make the whole spectrum of decisions. Some of these problems effect different groups of women differently. There have been advocates of forced sterilisation of women of colour and poor women because they’re “having too many babies”. There have been advocates of forced pregnancy for white women because “there aren’t enough approriately white babies oh noes”. The relationship between abortion and women with disabilities, or potentially disabled embryos can be troubling (and, incidentally, women with disabilities who ask whether there’s an undercurrent of ableism involved in the decision to abort potentially disabled embryos aren’t anti-choice. They’re asking a question. Because given the society we live in, it’s likely that there is. And y’know, most of them are probably going to understand women who don’t have the resources or support to look after a child with a disability. Most of them are likely agitating for greater support for parents of children with disabilities. The point is whether you’re thinking about it. And I think they have some right to at least ask the question, within reason. The right to choose doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about how privilege informs your choices. ).
And finally, I support reproductive freedom because if I didn’t, and if feminists before me didn’t fight for it, I’d currently have a child who deserved to be wanted more than I could want them. And yeah, because of that whole growing up thing, children being wanted is a big thing, for me. For some people adoption is enough to solve that issue, and that’s great for them. Really. I think people who decide to put their children up for adoption, when freely choosing to do so, are deserving of a whole bunch of respect, because it’s not something I could do. Because giving a child away after they’re born, for me (and I’m emphasising the for me, here), isn’t enough to quiet the little voice in my head telling me that I’d still be showing that child that they’re not wanted. And I freely admit that this is a very personal thing, for me, and I’m really sorry, because I know it’s probably coming across that I think adoption is bad, but I don’t – my words are being clumsy. If I want children later in life (which is a pretty big if at this point, but stay with me), I’d probably adopt. Which may sound hypocritical, but really has a lot to do with the fact that what it comes down to is that I don’t think I’m psychologicially capable of putting a child up for adoption, for reasons that pertain to all kinds of my own shit, which I wouldn’t dream of projecting onto other people, because it’s MY shit.
And all of those things are also why I’m planning to volunteer for Children By Choice. Because whilst abortion wasn’t really an agonising decision for me, because I’d thought a lot about it by the time I found myself pregnant, I know lots of other women need more support and help than I did in figuring out the decision that’s right for them; women who need to be listened to and given the time and resources to make their own decisions, rather than have decisions made for them. And I want to contribute to that, and contribute to organisations that help that to happen.
But enough about me. Other people have said some awesome things.
Blogging for and beyond choice – Amanda (Pandagon)
This woman was the religious conservative red stater that people who talk about compromise on abortion want to lure over. And yet here she was sitting at the table with a bunch of crunchy feminists, queer activists and generally cantankerous pro-choicers (literally, she sat with our little group at lunch one day and was winking at and laughing with some of our more goofily feminist jokes)â€”not because we had limited our demands for womenâ€™s rights but because we expanded those demands and the expanded view of what womenâ€™s rights are was appealing to her. Talk about choice, sheâ€™s not at the table. Talk about a womanâ€™s right to self-determination and that means something to her.
Why I’m Pro-Choice – Jill (Feministe)
I am pro-choice because itâ€™s the pro-choice movement that has advocated for policies which actually decrease the need for abortion, and which make it easier for women to have children: comprehensive sexual health education, affordable and accessible contraception (including emergency contraception), pre-natal and well-baby care, social support for pregnant women and women with children, affordable child care, fair pay for working women, supporting pregnant girls, and gender equality. Comparatively, the â€œpro-lifeâ€ movement* has no interest in actually lowering the abortion rate; their ultimate goal is sexual control of women, evidenced by their opposition to contraception and their belief that there is only one singular way to live: abstain from sex until heterosexual marriage, and then have as many children as God gives you.
Jill also tackles the mythical post-arbortion syndrome.
I agree. Women must have space to grieve if they feel a need to grieve, to be joyful if they feel joyful, to be relieved if they feel relieved, or to not feel one way or the other, any more than theyâ€™d feel about any other medical procedure. The reality is that many women do feel conflicted about their abortions â€” how could they not? The dominant narrative is that abortion is always a tragic choice, that it is inherently devastating, that any decent person would feel immensely guilty for the choice she made. So women are stuck: Either you feel guilty, or you feel guilty for not feeling guilty. Itâ€™s hard to tell when the guilt is inherent, and when itâ€™s put upon you. Even pro-choice women and feminist women may feel guilty about being so â€œstupidâ€ to get pregnant in the first place when they should â€œknow better;â€ the deeply ingrained idea that abortion is a tragedy can touch even the most pro-choice of people, who realize that abortion is the best choice for them given their circumstances.
And, because it’s not just about abortion, Jill looks at Oprah’s experience of teenage pregnancy and the general treatment of teenage pregnancy in the US.
Yes, we should obviously try and lower the teen pregnancy rate â€” but not because teen pregnancy is shameful, or because women should always been married before they have children.* We should try and lower the teen pregnancy rate because (a) many teens who get pregnant didnâ€™t want to get pregnant; and (b) most of the teens who did want to get pregnant, or didnâ€™t care either way, felt the way they did because they didnâ€™t see very many other options for their futures.
Challenging ‘choice’ – brownfemipower (Women of Color Blog)
Quote from Andrea Smith’s Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide:
Rather, women are ascribed reproductive choices if they can afford them or if they are deemed legitimate choice-makers. Building on this analysis, I would argue that while there is certainly a sustained critique of the â€œchoiceâ€ paradigm, particularly among women of color reproductive rights groups, the choice paradigm continues to govern much of the politics of mainstream groups in a manner which continues the marginalization of women of color, poor women and women with disabilities.
Raquel Ervin and Why I’m Pro-Choice – Ragnell (Written World)
Raquel’s at a scary crossroads. She can have the baby and forever wonder what her life would have been like without having put her life on hold for a child, or she can have the abortion and forever wonder what her life would have been like with a little son or daughter. Its such an incredible decision, and both choices have a lot of pain associated with them. If she was denied the money, or the ability to get an abortion, she would be forced to keep the baby and responsibility for her decision would not be on her. She could always blame Augustus if she has to drop out of school. She wants to keep the baby, but she doesn’t want to think that she gave up her dreams when she does.
Why I’m pro-choice – elle, abd
…the discourse around pregnancy, abortion, and motherhood is such that, while I didn’t feel guilty about the abortion, I felt guilty about not feeling guilty. I felt guilty because I had no business being pregnant anyway–I should’ve known better. I felt guilty because one of the factors in my choice was that I was a college student on scholarship far from home and I knew that I wouldn’t have been able to stay at my university. Was that selfish? And as a woman, defined largely as a potential mother, wasn’t I supposed to be infinitely selfless? I don’t want other women going through that “ashamed of not being shamed.
Why I’m Pro-choice – Jack Goff
Since women are the ones whose body bears the burden of pregnancy, it is absolutely imperative that a woman has complete body autonomy. Pregnancy can kill. Pregnancy produces multiple consequences that many women cannot deal with and that many women do not wish to deal with. To tell a woman that what her body does is not up to her is the essence of the patriarchical system. It all hinges on this one issue, whether women get to decide what happens to them.
Repro Rights Day – trinityva
But I live in an ableist world, where women who want to keep fetuses with disabilities are called selfish and people’s jaws drop at the “cruelty” of women who want a baby so bad that they’d “bring suffering like that into the world.” I think that pressure means something. I think someone who has amnio being asked “So… when shall we schedule you at the clinic?” and having to stammer, repeatedly, “No, I want to keep it. This is my baby” means something.
Pro-Choice for Life – Angry Black Bitch
So, letâ€™s talk about sexâ€¦about â€œdown thereâ€ and why some of my sisters canâ€™t call it by name even after their child was born through it. About a government that spends millions to protect ignorance but scoffs at the idea of promoting knowledge. Women of color need to recognize…our fists should be raised in anger! Listen to what is being saidâ€¦that women of color arenâ€™t capable of making sound medical decisionsâ€¦that knowing shit is dangerous for usâ€¦that we donâ€™t value our reproductive future and that we are unfit to decide what the fuck that future should be.
I’m Pro-Choice because… – Maia (Capitalism Bad, Tree Pretty)
What I want to say about abortion isn’t anything to do with what I think the laws should be. There have been two things I’ve written about frequently on this blog the first that access is as important as rights and that the right to choose has to also include the right to continue the pregnancy.
What we’ve lost – Maia (Capitalism Bad, Tree Pretty)
When abortion battles were fought and won (or lost, in New Zealand’s case – but we won the wore), they weren’t fought using the term ‘pro-choice’.
The feminist slogan was: “A woman’s right to choose”
The most obvious thing we’ve lost in the compacting of the slogan to a label is the woman. The feminist slogan put women at the centre of our argument.