Monday, January 22, 2007

On Choice

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007
Today, as some people might know is the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And the Bush v. Choice action center asks that people blogging for choice this year post why they are pro choice.
My relationship with choice is somewhat complicated. Attending Catholic school for most of my life I can't really describe my position as anything other than "brainwashed" until I reached college. From an early age abstinence was obvious as the only choice for anyone who didn't want to have children. And when I was 10 this seemed to be a perfectly reasonable position.
In highschool I was President of the "Respect Life" organization. (Though most of the work they did under my leadership was working to make people's lives better, we participated in Habitat for Humanity and similar programs as well as doing things for people in nursing homes and more. Very few of our events were abortion related.) I recieved tons of misinformation about abortion and how the body works, both at Pro life conferences and at school.
A lot of that misinformation was focused on two areas, how birth control works, and when the fetus was "alive." Birth control, in all its forms was touted as ineffective. I don't remember learning about hormonal birth control, but we did talk about IUDs and these were specifically touted as forms of abortion. Also the morning after pill and RU486 were frequently confused with one another. But above all the fetuses life was touted, it's right to live. The wants and desires of the mother never entered into the conversation. By getting pregnant the woman had forfieted these rights. Only after the abortion were her thoughts relevant. We had a speaker at one of these conferences who spoke of her experiences with abortion and how it had scarred her for life. (Femeniste has a post about this "Post Abortion Syndrome" .)
It wasn't until college that I really thought about how important controlling my body's reproduction was to my own personal freedom. Unsurprisingly my desire to remain abstinent did not last into college. I took the morning after pill once, and beat myself up about it for at least a year. Because all of my prior education had told me that if you get sex you WILL get pregnant and that EC was the same as abortion. That particular instance resulted in a large amount of hysteria and depression, but (and this relates to the feminste post) in the light of day I think it had more to do with a traumatic sexual experience, and catholic guilt than it had to do with EC.
After dealing with several of my own scares and a very real issue that a friend of mine had, it wasn't surprising that I started re thinking my position on the abortion issue. (I had totally changed my mind about birth control at this point.) But I think the thing that changed my mind was the day we talked about Margaret Sanger in my Development of American Culture class. Until then I don't think I ever really made the connection between a woman's right to control her own body and a woman's ability to have a career. Nor were coat hanger abortions or how damaging childbirth can be to a woman's body ever an issue. But considering those, I changed my mind.
I still don't think I could ever have an abortion. I'm fairly certain the guilt would kill me (gee thanks Rome). But I wont stand in the way of other women's right to do so, nor will I condemn them for it. It is a very difficult decision and one every woman (or couple) has to make for herself (themselves) based on their own situation. I do think that better funding for birth control and better sex education in schools are the most important steps to lowering the abortion rate, by lowering the number of unintended pregnancies.
And now back to our regularly scheduled ranting.

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