Blogging for Choice: 35 Years of Roe v. Wade

Roe turned 35 today. Will it make it to 50? 75? I can only hope so. In honor of the 35th anniversary of the decision a number of bloggers joined NARAL’s Blogging for Choice campaign. The assignment was simple: blog about why voting Pro-Choice is important to you.

First of all, I wish that so many things in life were not presented in binary terms. If one is pro-choice then they can’t be pro-life, you’re either with us or against us — you get the idea. It is a classic rhetorical trick and one that was exemplified to a disturbing degree in the last presidential election (Kerry questioned some policies and therefore was a flip-flopper). What I REALLY hate about it is that it forces an often uneducated choice about an issue and doesn’t allow for any sort of reflection or reconsideration of the issues. Critical reflection and the freedom to change one’s mind is integral to civic responsibility, in my opinion. But that’s not the point of this post. The point is to talk about why I’m pro-choice.

The answer is really fairly simple: I believe in having control over your body and what takes place within it. Bottom line.

An entire literature about the experience of embodiment exists, from experiences of performances (acting, singing) to experiences of emotion (happiness, rage), to experiences of disease (cancer, injury), to experiences of body modification (tattooing, piercing). In terms of the former, the occurrences within one’s body are considered paramount to identity. The way we view and understand our bodies is integral and inseparable from how we understand our self and our position in society. When we experience an injury or disease to our body we are often forced to face our own mortality or learn to understand our body and it’s strengths/limitations in new ways. For the latter, body modification has often been seen as a resistance movement or a reclaiming of one’s body against some form of oppression. The power to exert change on the body is perhaps the greatest and most central (in terms of the self) power of all.

Thus, a woman’s power to control what occurs in her body is, to me, central to her own understanding of her self and her way of positioning herself in society. The changes that occur in her body during pregnancy are not fleeting, the emotional experience does not disappear after nine months, the responsibility of a life (if she so chooses) continues indefinitely. For all of these reasons (and many more) it should not be in the power of anyone else to EVER make that decision for her. It is her body, it should be her decision.

In high school government class I remember my instructor saying that so much of our understanding of rights comes down to a simple phrase: “your rights end where mine begin.” I think that applies to this issue. You have the right to free speech, the right to protest against abortion, the right to vote for whichever candidate you want, the right to assemble, etc. But I have the right to make decisions about my body. And your rights (to stop me) end where my right (to retain the power) begin.

That’s my philosophical argument. But I also vote pro-choice because of the following terrifying examples of men who will NEVER understand what it means to be a woman, what it means to run the risk of getting pregnant, what it means to weight career options and timing in terms of having children, what it means to bleed every month. I don’t expect them to TRULY understand, how could they? But I do expect them to trust me, or at least respect me, enough to allow me to retain control over the one thing in life that I can call mine, no matter what: my body.

(Note: All of the clips below can be found on Media Matters, you can also click the image to follow the link to the full story)

Lest I give too much space on my blog to terrifyingly ignorant conservative men, the following images are from one kick-ass woman who understands how women’s bodies are treated in America:

And FINALLY, I’m pro-choice because I’m not naive enough to think that making abortion illegal will actually prevent abortions from occurring. Instead, my fear is that restricting abortion will disproportionately effect young women and women in lower socioeconomic positions who do not have the social supports or social/fiscal capital that will allow them to receive the adequate, informative, and caring attention they need.

Restriction out of fear and ignorance will get us no where and will do more to harm the women who need care the most. Educating young women and men about responsible sexual practices will do far more to prevent unintended pregnancy and ultimately limit the amount of women who must face this difficult decision.


2 Responses to “Blogging for Choice: 35 Years of Roe v. Wade”

  1. 1 Allison
    January 22, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    Well said. I couldn’t agree more.

  2. 2 Danielle
    January 27, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    This is very well written (not that I would expect less). If anyone asks me… I will just refer them to your page, as I think you’ve said it best.

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