Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don't like abortion? Don't have one.

I have a question: where in Roe v. Wade does it say that women have to have abortions?

Nowhere.

The operand language in the landmark decision says that a woman has sovereignty over her body because of the Ninth Amendment, which states that "the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people". That means, in simple language, you can't use the Constitution to deny people their rights. The Supreme Court has traditionally held that this Amendment also provides people with the right to privacy and that's why the Supreme Court in Roe said that the decision to have an abortion is between her and her doctor (up until the third trimester when it becomes possible for the potential-human to survive outside the womb).

Allow me to be more blatant: the decision of what a woman does with her pregnancy, to carry it or terminate it is between her and her doctor. Obviously there are two choices: to carry or to terminate.

And yet, the anti-choice crowd has not-surprisingly decided that there is no choice permitted in any circumstances. Either they win and there is no option to have a safe and legal abortion, or they lose and there is somehow no choice for young women to carry their pregnancies and either keep the eventual-baby or give it up for adoption. It is this extremist view (either everyone has an abortion or no one has it) is precisely why we call these people anti-choice. (Interestingly enough, they also have a long history of denying the choice to have children to poor women and minorities.)

Since we call them "anti-choice", they call us "pro-abortion". Funny, the only people I know of who are "pro-abortion" are the ones that force abortions and sterilization on poor women, minorities, and, of course, sex slaves. Those of us who maintain that what a woman does with her body and her pregnancy are between her and her doctor are not pro-abortion. We're pro-woman.

Being pro-choice means being pro-woman. You can still be against abortion and be pro-choice and pro-woman. But being pro-woman means that you believe:
  1. Women have the intellectual capacity to understand that knowing about sex does not mean you have to go out and have it right away.
  2. Women have the intellectual capacity to prevent unwanted pregnancy when provided the tools to do so.
  3. Women have the intellectual and emotional capacity to make the right decision for themselves when faced with a pregnancy, either wanted or unwanted.
  4. Women have the intellectual and emotional capacity to deal with the consequences of their decision either to carry the pregnancy or to terminate the pregnancy.
There are a number of other aspects to being pro-woman, but you get the idea. Being pro-woman involves being pro-choice, because you have to recognize that women have the ability to think for themselves without a man or a government deciding what she can and cannot do with her body -- whether it is taking birth control, having an abortion, or having as many kids as she feels she can support.

Meanwhile, the anti-choice/anti-woman crowd believe that there is no woman who can make this decision. Whether they believe that we Walking Wombs are too feeble to make such choices, or that God has endowed them with the ability to make us pregnant and thus the authority to make us stay pregnant; or whatever it is that makes the mostly-male anti-choice crowd think that they are permitted more control over women's bodies and sexuality than those women are they believe that they have the right to make that decision. It's not about life, it's about control.

Before I wrap this up, I also want to talk about Parental Consent laws. My parents and I fight about this all the time. Nevermind that there are no Parental Consent laws regarding a teenage girl keeping a child, nonono, that's preposterous! I've been told that "well, they shouldn't be having sex in the first place." Except, who is a parent to decide when their teenager has sex? And why, tell me why, parents never say this about teenage boys? Why should they be having sex? And who the hell are they going to have sex with if not teenage girls?! The parents who are frank and honest about sex, reproduction, abortion, and birth control are far less likely to have a pregnant teenager. The parents who simply tell their children "don't do it" (Sarah and Todd Palin, I'm lookin' at you), are more likely to end up having to deal with a pregnant teenager.

Parental Consent laws are not, as so many believe, the same as consent to other major surgeries. There's no anesthesia involved unless it's a late-term abortion, and as with any malpractice, if an abortion doctor causes the death of the woman recieving the abortion, there is a means of suing for malpractice. So, since I'm pretty sure that you don't have to parental consent (except for insurance purposes) to having a cavity removed (and I've had cavities filled and was pretty much given the same drugs you'd get during an early-term abortion), and no one's going to push for Parental Consent laws for cavities because they don't want their teenage daughter eating sugar behind their backs and going to a dentist to have the result of their "poor choices" removed, I can safely put to rest this idea that parental consent laws regarding abortion are really about the health and well being of the child.

Rather, Parental Consent laws regarding abortion are just one more means for parents to try to control and own the sexuality of their teenage daughters -- but not their teenage sons. The parent who says "well, they shouldn't be having sex anyway" isn't going to win the trust of their teenage daughter. If a parent is not the type who will go off the handle in the event that their teenage daughter becomes pregnant, the daughter, seeking comfort in a time of uncertaintly will tell her parents. She will. You don't need a law to tell a 16-year-old that she can get the comfort and guidance she seeks by going to the parents whom she trusts. But the parent who will go ballistic? Who will throw the girl out? Who will beat her, ground her, punnish her because she "shouldn't have been having sex anyway"? Why does that parent have more rights than the girl? It could be argued that the parent who will punnish the pregnant teen has more rights than the one who has earned the trust of the teen before the pregnancy occured, because they have been granted a right that the trustworthy parent would never have taken by force.

Parental consent laws take the right to choose away from the teen girl and give it to her parents. They have the final say over whether she has an abortion. They have the right to know that she is pregnant. The trustworthy parent doesn't take that right -- the trustworthy parent has earned something that the parents protected by Parental Consent laws have not.

Parental consent laws protect no one other than the parents who will punnish their pregnant teen for being whores... for being teenagers; and it gives them the control over their daughthers that they seek, just one other thing that the trustworthy parent would never take by force. Of course, there's no parental consent laws for a pregnant teenager to give birth -- a procedure that is by far more life threatening than having an abortion. Why is that? Should there be one? Of course not, that's ridiculous -- but that just undercuts more this argument that parental consent laws regarding abortion are about the health and wellbeing of the pregnant teen.

I'm not a teenager any more and I've never been pregnant. If I had been sexually active and gotten pregnant when I was still a teenager, I would have told my mother who would have been with me when I had the abortion. Want to know why? Because when I was a teenager my mother was frank and honest with me about sex, reproduction, abortion, and birth control. You know who I wouldn't have told? My father. He would have beaten and then banished me. I don't think that there should be laws protecting someone who would do that to a person seeking comfort and guidance -- I don't think that there should be a law that mandates I tell someone who would punnish me for making my own choices.

Period.

1 comment:

Kelsey said...

Thanks for writing this.