Today is the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, and thereby Blog for Choice Day. I don't usually get into these things in this space, but I'm feeling in the mood for it today, somehow.
The Roe decision was handed down on the day I was one month old. I think of that, every year on this anniversary - if she had wanted to, if I had not been the result of a planned pregnancy, my mother would not have had any legal options. That makes me squirm a little bit, on her behalf. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be forced to carry a pregnancy I didn't want. (Being pregnant when you want to be is *wonderful*; my pregnancy only made me more pro-choice, as does having a daughter.)
I have been pro-choice as long as I can remember. Somewhere in the late 80s, while I was in high school, there were a bunch of news stories about abortion (Congress? the Supreme Court? not sure....), and I remember my 15-year-old self being very offended and appalled that a bunch of white old guys in suits and red power ties who were 2000 miles away could decide my fate like that (yeah, that's pretty much how I phrased it back then). And I was *years* away from having sex - but I knew that this impinged on my bodily integrity in a way few other things could.
My first real job out of college was working in an abortion clinic. These days, I lurk - and sometimes comment - in abortioninfo
, which is a fabulous community dedicated to providing unbiased factual information without any pressure (either way, really) to girls and women in need. There is so much fear around the abortion decision and especially the procedure itself, even though an early abortion is something like 11 times safer than childbirth. Because it's a taboo issue, most people don't know of anyone around them who has had an abortion - in reality, 35% of women will have had an abortion by the time they turn 45.
I read that community because it makes it *real*. I do think that the pro-choice / pro-life debate tends to get bogged down in the rhetoric and it all becomes hypothetical, semantics, etc. This is not a hypothetical or a theory, this is someone's life, and that's what's on display in abortioninfo
. The one thing I'd say I took away from my year working in the clinic is that everyone has a story, and every story is different. I see that in abortioninfo
too, and that's what keeps me there - the stories.
I vote. galagan
has accused me of being a one-issue voter, and that's actually kind of true. But as I said to my friend Z the poli sci professor, abortion rights is a litmus test for me: if I agree with a candidate on abortion, it is a fairly good indicator that I agree with them on a whole range of other issues. (sanj
suggested that queer rights/gay marriage were also a good litmus test.)
Personally, I come down on the side of prevention - there's nothing inherently wrong with abortion, but it would be unnecessary surgery if the pregnancy didn't have to exist. I continually find it damned *appalling* that nearly half of the pregnancies in this country (to women of ALL ages) are unintended. We need better access to contraception (as well as emergency contraception), and comprehensive sexuality education, for children of all ages. I fully intend to be the cool mom who will answer all questions - my daughter can (hopefully) bring home her friends to ask me questions, and I will have a drawer with a boxful of condoms that people can take without my watching over them. Because knowledge is power
Source for statistics here