Today’s 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and NARAL Pro-Choice America’s invitation to Blog for Choice, offered an opportunity for some deep reflection on why exactly it is that I am pro-choice – something, I realized, I had not spent much time thinking about. It is a label I have worn for so long I never really considered the reasoning behind it. Pro-choice was a comfortable fit.
Of course I believe that decisions concerning pregnancy are a woman’s decisions…no one else’s. No politician should insert himself (and it’s usually a him, though not always) between a woman and the medical professionals she relies on.
Of course I believe every woman should have the right to choose for herself…whichever direction that choice leads her in.
But that’s easy for me to say. I have never had to struggle over getting the reproductive health services I needed or wanted. For too many women, that is not always the case. I began to see that on many levels concerning reproductive health, I was just too comfortable.
Pro-choice, to me, has always been bundled with the concepts of freedom, opportunity, independence, and equality. Concepts that can be as elusive as privacy and justice.
So as I thought about why I am pro-choice, and pushed out of my comfort zone, I began to realize that standing for choice was much larger than the argument between “choice” and “life.” Standing for choice meant defending our fundamental rights – rights guaranteed to all women.
Abortion is legal. Yet in this country a woman’s class, race, immigration status, place of employment (I’m thinking the U.S. military, for one) and where she lives can impede her right to access abortion. That is just plain wrong. And to recapture a phrase used in the anti-choice rhetoric – it is also immoral.
Roe v. Wade gave all women the right to have an abortion. Yet those who would deny women that right are working at the state level to make access to abortion difficult if not impossible. The Guttmacher Institute reports that more state-level abortion restrictions were enacted in 2011 than in any prior year; 2012 was next. More than half of all U.S. women of reproductive age live in a state that is hostile to abortion rights. And the Hyde Amendment continues to cruelly deny access for some of our most vulnerable women.
Yesterday we celebrated Martin Luther King Day. One of my favorite quotes is from his 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
We talk a great deal in this country about social and economic justice. We need to add reproductive justice to the conversation.
I am pro-choice because I abhor injustice. All women…ALL WOMEN… have a right to accessible reproductive care, including abortion. Not just those who can afford it.