Blog for Choice

Posted on January 22, 2011

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For two more hours it is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It’s also blog for choice day. From what I’ve seen the majority of blogging has been around abortion, and since I have done that already (here), I decided to take it a different route, because I think CHOICE encompasses a lot more than just abortion, and i think those of us who are pro choice should widen the scope a little.

Yes, I am for a woman having the right to choose to have an abortion. But there are many choices a woman should be free to make before it even gets that far.  And I don’t believe that is currently the case. A woman should know what goes on with her body regarding ovulation cycles, the thickening of the uterine walls to plan for pregnancy, and things like that. Hell, boys should know too! Our sex education is incredibly pathetic.  How are teenagers and young adults able to make informed decisions about their sexual activities without even knowing how their body works?  It wasn’t until i was a junior in college, 19/20 years old that I finally had thorough sex education in my Women’s Biology class.  Finally understanding the cycle the uterus goes through and why it is at certain times you are more likely to get preggo than others as well as how my body works in general was incredibly empowering. I felt as though I had control. Public schools need to offer comprehensive sex ed to allow young people to make informed choices about what they do.

Another issue I have around choice is regarding contraception.  I have been with far too many men who have tried to have sex without protection, even after I was blatantly clear that I wouldn’t do it otherwise. I am a very strong woman and I was ignored many a time, and had to get pissed off to be heard. Imagine being pressured to just “do it” because it “feels better” or there aren’t any condoms around.  After saying no numerous times, I can imagine a woman just saying fine (out of frustration/being tired, trusting him, or because she’s so horny she says fuck it lets go).  This is coercion, ladies and gentlemen.  Sometimes women don’t have a choice regarding contraception.  Not to mention more and more teens are reporting being in abusive relationships, which means the woman has even less control over what goes down.  Women shouldn’t have to feel relief when she finally meets a man willing to share responsibility.   We need to hold each other accountable.

Another contraception issue: a woman should have the choice to use the pill, or the ring, or the patch if she chooses. Birth Control is not covered under many insurances. But viagra is.  Men can be covered for something not even medically related but women cannot be covered when it comes to choosing when they want to have babies. pleasure>choice apparently. Thank gods for places like Planned Parenthood.  Some folks say contraception should be obtainable without a prescription. I honestly don’t know how i feel about that currently. If we had better regulations around what goes into medicine and I could trust that it was safe for anyone to take, then perhaps I would feel more comfortable with that. But whether its with or without a prescription, birth control should be affordable, so women can CHOOSE to use it.

Then there is if a woman gets pregnant.  A woman absolutely should have the choice to keep her child if she wants to.  The “pro-life” (i hate that term.. because i’m so pro-death, ya know) side uses this argument frequently, talking about how women are coerced into abortions and need to be protected.  First of all, women don’t need to be protected, they need to be trusted to make the best decisions for their life.  But secondly, I agree on the fact that some women are coerced into abortion, or just feel as though they could not survive if they had another mouth to feed, couldn’t finish school, etc.  Women need to be SUPPORTED. not protected. There should be more affordable child care.  There shouldn’t be a stigma against hiring mothers, and mothers should not be paid less than other employees.  There could be more support.  There are a variety of ways we, as a society, could “protect” women from having abortions by supporting their decision to keep a child, if they decide that is the best option.

None of these ideas are new or revolutionary (well I guess they are somewhat revolutionary), and most feminists I know are of the same principles.  I just think that we get so caught up in the abortion aspect of women’s reproductive health and choices, and especially now as the tension around this debate seems to be rising and sides are becoming polarized, I think it is important to highlight the fact that choice isn’t just about abortion. That there are various ways we can prevent abortions from happening (from contraception being made available to support for mothers) and to simply make them illegal or incredibly hard to get is not going to protect women from anything.

To want no honest sex education, no readily available contraceptive, no safe and easy access to abortion and no social programs to support women who decide to keep babies is not being pro-life. It’s being pro-forced second class status as a woman.  Wrap it up in all the morality you want, but it’s about entrapment and trying to undo the progress women have made over the last 40 years or so. It’s about backlash to feminism, to independent women who want to be treated equal.  about wanting to HAVE to protect women because they aren’t equal and full human beings capable of living life the same way a man is.  I say FUCK THAT.  It’s time we stop reacting to the labels thrown at us and clearly lay out the issue: it’s not just about abortion. It’s time to ask some questions ourselves.

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