Saturday, January 21, 2006
Blog for Choice: It's About Responsibility
I tried once before to outline why I'm so pro-choice, but I didn't like it. I was too wishy washy. I was too concious of the fact my dad reads this space sometimes and that, by advocating for choice because it matters to me personally, my stance marks a complete break with my fundamentalist upbringing. I was also highly conscious that making a personal argument of it, I might as well have put on a snappy little cami with a big scarlet F on it for fornicatrix.
Oh, well. Too late for that now. No more sqeamishness. I'm coming out:
1. I believe in the separation of church and state: whatever your political opinions on abortion, birth control or choice, most likely it’s colored by your faith (or even the absence thereof.) In other words being for/against abortion usually comes down to a religious argument. Our thoughts about zygotes, conception, what the egg thinks/feels, what it’s for, what women’s bodies are for – these are all faith-based arguments. But establishing civic authority over a woman's body based on religious orthodoxy is antithetical to the idea of church/state separation. Like it or not, we live in a secular country. And in this particular secular context, church and state are supposed to live in two different neighborhoods.
(And, no – I don’t believe that America was founded to be a Christian nation; if you do, then you have a wickity whack knowledge of history, dude.)
2. I believe that reproductive freedom is about more than abortion: most discussions among regular people (not policy nerds) begin and end at abortion. (It’s like most conversations about sex ed beginning and ending at abstinence or handing out condoms.) But imagine if your first choice didn’t have to be about abortion. Just as important to reproductive choice, if not more so, are issues around equal access to all methods of birth control, insurance coverage for contraception, comprehensive sex education for young people, information about sexual health and careful family planning. Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians and religious groups weren’t actually forcing someone to play the abortion end game, and let women and girls have access to what they’ll need so they won’t get pregnant?
3. I believe I shouldn’t be punished for having sex by being forced to give birth When conversations about choice or rights or women’s bodies crop up, there's always that smart-ass who thinks she’s scoring a philosophical or rhetorical point by sneering, “Well, you shouldn’t have had sex if you didn’t want the responsibility blah blah sneer sneer snit snit.”
Well, no shit. But it’s utterly beside the point. Better watch out - not only is your misogyny showing, you run the risk of toppling beneath the weight of your halo. Our biology automatically dictates that women assume most of the responsibility/consequences of sex. Any slip in vigilance impacts our lives immediately. It’s why the Christian Right’s recent moves against contraception must stop. If you take away my access to birth control, you take away my ability to be responsible for myself. That’s a heavy and ever present responsibility; to me, advocating for choice is ‘personal responsibility’ personified. And we carry that responsibility – why does Alito and his ilk think such responsibility should rest elsewhere?
The separation of religious and civic authority is at the heart of this fight and it’s the most important to me. It’s not that I don’t care what the bible says or what moral squeamishness other people might have; but, ultimately, your exegesis or your thoughts on your morality have nothing to do with whether a woman who’s not you should have the right to make decisions about what happens to her uterus and ovaries.
Her moral agency.