Yesterday was the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade! This is the landmark Supreme Court decision that a women has a right to privacy in the decision to terminate a pregnancy. Yesterday for the anniversary, I decided to head over to Richmond, VA with my great friend, Molly to the Rally for Choice.
First, before I explain why I became pro-choice, I want to explain the phrase pro-choice, or at least as how I see it. Pro-Choice doesn't mean pro-abortion, it doesn't mean that "pro-choicers" advocate abortions, it doesn't mean that we don't believe that life is important. Pro-choice is simply the idea that women have the right to choose and have control of their bodies and their sex lives. Being pro-choice is the belief that women have the right to have a child, to give up her child in an adoption, to have an abortion, or any other choice about her body. Also, an important part of being pro-choice is that it encompasses all of reproductive rights. This included contraception, sex education, advocacy for sexual assault victims, and of course, choices made during the pregnancy.
Now, why am I pro-choice?
The reason I am pro-choice is similar to why I'm a libertarian. I believe in personal autonomy, I believe in the individual, and I believe that the government has no right to tell people what to do with their own bodies. Also, my belief stems from my trust for people, a trust that people will make decisions for themselves based on their experience, judgment, and common sense. I honestly just can't understand why we can't let people make decisions for themselves. Beyond just the basic framework as to why I became pro-choice, there's something more to it than liberty, personal autonomy, and such. Women should be seen as equal in our society, women should be seen as intelligent individuals. Who am I to judge any one's circumstance? Honestly, who am I to look at a women in whatever situation and tell her that she has no self-ownership. I am also a strong advocate for comprehensive sex education because I want abortion legal, safe, and RARE and sex education that explains correct condom use, contraception, unbiased information on STDs and pregnancy will make sure that abortion is rare. Ultimately, I believe that since women have self-ownership of their bodies that they should assess their situation and make decisions for themselves without any force from the state.
You might be asking, well Sandra, when does life begin?! Don't you believe that the unborn has rights?
Slow down there pilgrim! Let's take those things one at a time. When does life begin? Well, I don't have an answer for that. I don't have an answer that fits everyone's beliefs. People base their answer of this question with science or their own religion. This is the issue - we can't agree with when life begins. As someone who believes in a strong, very strong, separation of church and state - we shouldn't let a religious base definition of life run policy. Now for the second question, do the unborn has rights? In my personal opinion, no. Wendy McElroy writes in her article called "Abortion - A Principled Defense of A Woman's Right to Choose" explains the difference between morality and rights. She further explains what it means to have rights.
The concept of rights is key to the abortion issue. Antiabortionists claim that abortion violates the rights of the fetus. I contend that antiabortion legislation violates the rights of the pregnant woman. I also contend that the fetus is not a human being. It possesses no rights. Up until the point of birth, it is not a self-owner.
The essential question becomes: 'What does it mean to be an individual?" For only by being an individual can the fetus possess individual rights. When defining a thing, it is necessary to discover the core characteristics-the characteristics without which it would be something else. With human beings, you subtract accidental characteristics such as race, sex, and hair color until you are left with the things which cannot be subtracted without destroying humanness itself. One such characteristic is a rational faculty.
An essential characteristic--indeed, a prerequisite--of considering something to be individual is that it be a discreet entity, a thing in and of itself. Until the point of birth, however, the fetus is not a separate entity; it is a biological aspect of the pregnant woman which possesses the capacity to become discrete. At birth, the fetus is biologically autonomous and is a self-owner with full individual rights. Although it cannot survive without assistance, this does not affect its biological independence; it is simply the dependence that any helpless individual experiences.
That's what I truly believe - that a fetus cannot have individual rights since they do not have self-ownership.
Anyways - I honestly think that as a society we must move forward with the liberation of women. I honestly think that the libertarion of women needs to include an honest belief in everey person that women can be trusted, are capable individuals, and that they are equal.
I am grateful, I am grateful because as someone who is half the age of the Roe v. Wade decision, I grew up in a society under that ruling. I didn't have to fight the fight of generations before me. Yet, this fight is not over. Sadly in Virginia especially, the fight is not over. If I am someone who truly believes in limited government, then how can I support a Governor who mandates 24-hour waiting periods and mandatory ultrasounds. How is that limited government? It simply isn't. It's big government and it needs to stop now.
Being pro-choice isn't simply about abortion, it's about trusting in individuals. Especially with this, I hope that we all trust women in the decisions they make.
Lastly, I include something that one of my favorite professors always says: "Abortion is a legal medical procedure. A legal medical procedure." And I believe it should be treated as such.
Keep fighting the good fight,
Also check out my blog post on the NARAL Pro-Choice VA blog: click here!