Today we reflect on the eve of the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade to consider the right to choose and what it really means.
Right now we have major pro-life gains in Congress. They bring to the table varying degrees and opinions on abortion, but when it comes to the law, they all want to do the same thing: Come between a woman and her doctor.
When it comes down to it, you don’t know what a woman is going through to make her decide to terminate her pregnancy. Perhaps it is as simple as forgetting to take a pill. But perhaps it is more complex than that. Perhaps she was raped. Perhaps the fetus will not completely develop or will become stillborn. Perhaps there are complications that the sign-carrying pro-life activist doesn’t begin to comprehend.
The scariest thing about making laws against abortion is that it does put women at risk. Those who advocate the “rape or incest” law can spout all they want, but when looking at the statistics, they’ll notice that most rape cases go unreported, and even fewer are prosecuted, simply because rape is very difficult to prove without witnesses or signs of injury.
A few months ago, this video went viral on YouTube when a man confronted protesters after they yelled at him and his wife. His wife was 16 months pregnant and the fetus was going to be born without kidneys.
I don’t know if he changed any minds that day, but these women had no clue that this clinic was the only place that would perform the procedure, since other physicians were either part of religious hospital networks or did not want to face the threats and epithets of protesters. This video is still lambasted by people in the pro-life movement who somehow believe it’s possible for a fetus to make it to term without kidneys. I’m also glad the man and his wife are now with child again and that everything seems to be going well.
“Women died,” my mother tells me of the days before Roe v. Wade. And it’s true. For any number of reasons – be it poverty, medical problems or a boyfriend who did not want to take responsibility as a father – women attempted and died using knitting needles, drinking poison and receiving botched illegal abortions. We cannot go back to those days. We cannot go back to times when the wealthiest can fly off to a safe foreign hospital and the poor do everything they can to terminate their pregnancies.
What we need to do is reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions, by promoting contraceptive education and giving people tools to survive.
This woman who carried a dying fetus is not a murderer, and neither are any of these women who died because of lack of access to proper medical care. And when it comes to abortion, it is not a matter of life vs. choice. It’s a matter of no one else having any right to know what happens in your doctor’s office. And no woman or her husband should have to explain to anyone who carries a sign and yells to strangers.
This is my post for NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Blog For Choice Day.