Monday, January 22, 2007

Why I'm Pro-Choice

Until I visited Lulu's blog, I didn't know today was the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and I'd never heard of Blog for Choice Day. I guess I'm a bad feminist.

Abortion is one of those topics I generally don't see much point in discussing. Most people have pretty strong feelings on the issue, and either people agree with you -- which doesn't make for particularly interesting conversation -- or they REALLY don't --which doesn't make for particularly productive conversation. But since the good folks at NARAL invited us all to do so, I figured I'd share my thoughts on why women's access to abortion should not be restricted. (I am not, however, going to get into any ridiculous abortion-related pissing matches in the comments section. See "doesn't make for particularly productive conversation" above.)

I don't know when life begins (and neither do you). I've watched enough In the Womb to know that something magical happens when sperm meets egg, and if I WANTED to have a baby I'd be pretty stoked on that little ball of cells slowly transforming into a little human inside me (although now that I put it that way, ewwww). Of course, I DON'T want to have a baby -- at least not right now -- so up to a certain mysterious point it's difficult to think of that little ball of cells as anything more than a little ball of cells.

Fortunately, I've never had to pursue this dilemma beyond the abstract. From the time I knew enough about sex to have it, I knew about and had affordable access to contraception.*

When politicians and religious fanatics are ready for the government to actively promote contraception and provide access to birth control, when they're willing to ensure that poor girls receive the same education and access (at the same price) as not-so-poor girls, when abstinence-only programs are scrapped for sex-ed programs that actually make sense, when teenaged girls aren't encouraged to pledge their virginity to their daddies, THEN I might buy into the anti-abortion argument about the sanctity of human life.

Because it's not that complicated. As I said a year ago when nobody but my brother and my friend Steve read my blog, if we did a kick-ass job of promoting and providing access to birth control, there would be far less abortion because there would be far fewer unwanted pregnancies. But you can't have it both ways: you can't deny women the opportunity to prevent conception and also deny them the right to terminate a pregnancy. Unless, of course, you hate women.

Which brings me to why I'm actually pro-choice.

I don't think the anti-abortion argument is really about the sanctity of human life at all, the deeply-held religious convictions of many pro-lifers (both male and female) notwithstanding. I think opposition to abortion is perpetuated by the male leadership of patriarchal religious organizations whose goal is to ensure women's inferior status. I know that sounds a bit conspiracy-theory-ish, but if we really wanted to eliminate abortion we wouldn't allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control.

I think Roe v. Wade rests on pretty shaky ground, constitutionally speaking (the 9th amendment, which essentially says there may be some rights the Founding Fathers didn't initially think of -- combined with the 14th amendment's guarantee of due process -- implies a right to privacy, and for a woman that privacy includes the right to terminate a pregnancy) but until all women enjoy complete and equal reproductive freedom, I remain pro-choice.

*Also I've been lucky. Which is not to say that I'm a tramp. I'm totally not.

27 comments:

Melissa said...

1. That article on pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning-after pills made me so instantly angry my vision blurred.

2. I want to punch men who think they have any say whatsoever in a woman getting or staying pregnant (except for when a woman purposely gets pregnant to try to trap the man into a relationship - she's clearly insane). I am probably going to get a lot of hateful feelings towards me when I say this, but everytime I hear a man talk about wanting to have kids, it makes me want to scream. MEN don't have kids. WOMEN have kids. Physically, emotionally, and mentally, women do almost all of the work. I know there are some amazing fathers out there, and God bless them for being the fine, upstanding humans they are, but beyond them, even a man who is considered to be a "good dad" is BARELY a parent. Don't believe me? Just watch a few TV commercials and sitcoms and see what passes for standard "good father" material in this country.

Anon. Blogger said...

Thanks to you and Lulu for the info re: Blog for Choice! Important stuff. REALLY important.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Shit, wish I'd known. But I couldn't have done a better job than this post. On the money, Megan. The so-called "pro-life" movement is about controlling women. It's also a-scared of sex.

GETkristiLOVE said...

I'm also a bad feminist.Not because I didn't realize the anniversary, but because I get so tired of trying to argue all the valid points (such that you made) to someone that is not pro-choice, that I tend to give up and just want to strangle them instead.

Phil said...

Exellent post.

Mellissa - To define, quantify and judge my role, participation and value as father to my children based on what you see on t.v. and your own, obvious, inexperience is insulting.

Grant Miller said...

Thanks for the disclaimer, Megan.

Melissa said...

Phil - I don't think I was judging you specifically on how you are as a father - I don't even know you. And for the record, I have a great dad.

Megan said...

Melissa - I get pretty fired up about the fucking pharmacists myself. If we were Rush Limbaugh we could start calling them pharmanazis.

AB - I don't think I'm changing the world here, but choice is a pretty important topic.

Vikki - I actually emailed you at the address on your blog to give you a heads up because it seemed like your cup o' tea.

GKL - Yeah, see the beauty of this is that you don't actually have to talk to anyone.

Phil - I'm sure Melissa didn't intend to insult you or fathers in general. I think (although I could be mistaken and feel free to correct me if I am, M) her point was that society expects much less of fathers than it does of mothers. I think that expectation is slowly changing.

Grant - Yeah, I guess that was unnecessary, huh?

Dave said...

I'm not an amazing father, but I am a good dad and I am WAY MORE than "barely a parent".

Patrick said...

You have a typo in your "see above" line about pissing matches (you typed production when you meant productive).
I'll let that slide because the rest of the post rocks. And you are not a bad feminist, because a bad feminist would have never blogged about this to begin with.
With that being said however, I am not a bad feminist just because I don't have a blog :)
You rock. Oh, and by the way, it is 1 degree outside. Maine rocks!
-Patrick :)

Megan said...

Dave - Again, can't speak for Melissa.

Melissa - Care to clarify?

Patrick - I fixed it. Sorry, I was drunk when I wrote this. :-)

Melissa said...

Yes, Megan, you totally pinned it down for me. I definitely feel that the differences between what we think makes a "good mother" and what we think makes a "good father" in this society are so skewed, they are not even be on the same level. If people would re-read what I wrote, I clearly state that there are some men who are "fine, upstanding humans," and by that, I mean they exceed the small amount that has come to qualify someone as a "good father." Thanks for clarifying for me, Megan.

Phil said...

My point is, what society views, and expects, is an abstraction, a broad, generalization, and has very little to do with the pratical application of being a father.

Hatchets and hard feelings buried, I'd like to examine this debate abit. If this is the wrong time to do this, please, just tell me.

Dave and I had a discussion about misreading what people write in blogs and comments, and the misunderstandings that occur.

If someone had said this, "I know there are some amazing black people out there, and God bless them for being the fine, upstanding humans they are, but beyond them, even a black person who is considered to be a "good black person" is BARELY a person. Don't believe me? Just watch a few TV commercials and sitcoms and see what passes for standard "good black people" material in this country."

1.) Is this a example valid?
2.) If it is, would you also defend it as a critisism of societies expectations?

I realize I am twisting your words, Melissa, please, take no offense, because none is intended.

Again, if this is the wrong place, or time, for this discussion, just tell me to fuck off. I'm working on my interpretation-of-content skills.

Brian said...

Good God, man! You're a good dad. Congratulations. Pat yourself on the back and get over it.

Phil said...

Hey Brian, how's it going?

Brian said...

Great, buddy.

So great, in fact, that it's almost un-fucking-believable, man.

Coaster Punchman said...

I like your post, but now I have an uncanny urge to pledge my virginity to my leather-daddy. Is that wrong?

Megan said...

CP - Yes.

The rest of y'all - For the record, I'm a big fan of discourse. I'm not sure the father-black people parallel quite works, but let's just assume it does. I still think the criticism is mostly of society for its low expecations of good __________. I think fatherhood is incredibly important, and I think there's a lot more equality (as far as level of parental involvement) in our generation than there was in our parents' generation. I still think the older generation - which is the generation of politicians making these particular decisions (abortion) is operating under the old paradigm, and I think maybe THAT'S what makes Melissa so angry re: fatherhood.

Phil said...

See, there you go. I just learned something. I did not see it that way.

Thanks Megan. And thanks Melissa.

Megan said...

And that is why discourse rocks.

Big Orange said...

three points:

1) going to a "purity ball" with my daughter sounds vaguely creepy and just plain gross. Maybe I'm twisted, but it seems to border on incest somehow.

2) that whole thing re: pharmacists is ridiculous beyond words. What's next, are they going to allow Scientologist pharmacists to deny people their psychiatric medications??

3) I had a button in college that, IMHO, sums it all up: "if you are against abortion, don't have one."

Coaster Punchman said...

I love your point #3 Big Orange. I'm always on a soap-box about that. You don't see Orthodox Jews trying to outlaw bacon, do you? If you think abortion is wrong, don't have one. If you think homosexuality is wrong, don't have a homosexual relationship. Why does it have to go further than that? I think we'd all be a lot happier if everyone just minded their own damn business.

Melissa said...

Sorry I missed this whole debate - I was in London for four days and not online. Megan, you are much better at putting my thoughts into words for me - if I ever become famous for some reason, you should be my speech writer.

Big Orange said...

hey, what can *I* refuse to do in MY job because I find it unethical or upsetting? I don't like MATH, for example. I therefore refuse to teach math 'cuz I find it morally reprehensible.

There. If it's good'nuff fo' da' pharmacists, it's good'nuff fo' me...

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