Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why I Vote Pro-Choice

Blog for Choice Day

I am blogging for choice today in honor of Roe's 35th Anniversary.  Why do I vote pro-choice?  Because pro-choice candidates, by working for reproductive justice and fighting for women's access to the full array of reproductive health services -- from comprehensive sexuality education to contraception to STD treatment and prevention to abortion to prenatal care -- are working to ensure women's equality across the board.  Having access to affordable reproductive health services, and being able to decide freely whether and when to have children, is especially critical for low-income women to be able to participate fully and equally in society.  I will never vote for a candidate who does not understand these basic truths.

Here is the entry I wrote when I blogged for choice on this day last year: 

In celebration of the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I join pro-choice bloggers in writing about why I am pro-choice.  Becoming a pro-choice advocate was, for me, a natural extension of being a feminist and believing in women's rights.  A woman who cannot control her own reproduction can never achieve full equality and autonomy.  More than a third of all women in the United States will have an abortion by the time they are 45. Some of these women will terminate wanted pregnancies, because their own life or health is at risk. because of a grave fetal anomaly, or because they cannot afford another child.  Most, however, will find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy.  It has become in vogue among even pro-choice politicians to talk about abortion as a tragedy. Certainly, unwanted pregnancy is a tragedy.  Ideally, all unwanted pregnancies would be prevented through contraception or abstinence. Abortion is often the result of tragic events -- including rape -- and misguided policies -- including the failure to ensure adequate access to contraception and to provide sufficient financial support to poor women who want to bear children.  But abortion will always be needed. Contraception will fail, women will be raped, awkward teenagers new to sex and lovers in the heat of passion will forgo a condom.   

In all likelihood, you know a woman who has had an abortion.  Women who decide what to do about an unwanted pregnancy make weighty moral decisions.  They bear the responsibility for those decisions.  As pro-choice people, we do no good by talking about abortion as shameful and wrong.  Instead, we should recognize women's autonomy in making this fraught, moral decision, just as we recognize the autonomy of people to make equally weighty decisions in countless other situations.  In 2003, in commemoration of Roe's 30th anniversary, I wrote a moral defense of abortion, in an article that remains just as relevant today.  You can read it at: Caitlin Borgmann & Catherine Weiss, Beyond Acopalypse & Apology, A Moral Defense of Abortion, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, vol. 35, p. 40 (Jan./Feb. 2003).


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