De in D.C. posted a comment on my first blog for choice day post. It was a familiar tune, one that I hear too often from women. They frame the abortion discussion based on what they themselves would choose if they were faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Many women think they would not choose to terminate and unplanned pregnancy, so that makes them “pro-life”. Here is my reply:
Well, I think it comes down to this. Are you against choosing an abortion for yourself, or do you think that women who want abortions should be forced to carry their pregnancy to term against their will or be forced to get an illegal abortion?
Many, many people would not choose an elective termination for themselves. Or, should I say, many women think they would not, but then do when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, 40% of women choose to terminate.
I understand the drug use example, but I don’t think it’s a very good one. Women are not criminals or addicts if they want to choose when to be pregnant and bear children. I think everyone would agree that IV drug use is a destructive, dangerous activity. Reproductive choice is not dangerous or destructive. Legal, safe abortion not only saves women’s lives, but it saves their already living children’s lives. The children who are four times more likely to die if their mother dies. Abortion is too often compared to something very dark or sinister, when it is the alternative that is truly sinister.
I think a much better example is euthanasia. I personally would not want to be hooked up on tubes, brain dead, in an ICU for years. Pull the plug. Pull the tubes. That’s not MY definition of life. I get to make that choice. Or, do I? Look at the Terri Schiavo case. I also believe in physician assisted euthanasia. Some people find that horrifying, scary, or unethical. But, it is not that way to everyone, and definite majorities in some states have said euthanasia, including physician assisted euthanasia, should be legal. Some people who personally would choose to have every resuscitation possibility used for themselves or their own loved ones may be able to step back and say that it is not their right to make that very, very difficult decision for other people. I would assume that not everyone who voted for those laws would choose physician assisted euthanasia if faced with a painful terminal illness and loss of quality of life.
I think the abortion discussion is too often focused on what individuals would choose for themselves, not on public policy. That’s not what “pro-choice” means. Pro-choice is a political position on health care access. If you think OTHER women should be forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will, then you can label yourself “pro-life” (which, as I showed above, is a misnomer to say the least) or “anti-abortion” as you see fit. I prefer the term “anti-choice”. If you think every woman gets to make that decision, just as you did, then you are pro-choice.