Blog for Choice: Celebrating 40 Years of Roe v. Wade

Today, January 22, 2013, marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. NARAL Pro-Choice America is invitingĀ  pro-choice bloggers and activists to participate in their eighth annual Blog For Choice Day. Details can be found here.

I took place in my first abortion debate in sixth grade. That was the year that George W. Bush first ran for president. I wasn’t paying attention to the election at that point, but I guess the girl next to me was because one day she got on the school bus and started talking about abortion and how it was always wrong, and didn’t I agree with her? I had never given it much thought at the time, but I went home and asked my mom about it. She explained why she was pro-choice, so I went to school and told that girl all my new-found reasons for being pro-choice. Her only response to my reasons were, “Well, there’s always adoption.” I went back home and asked my mom about that, and she gave me her response, and I went back and told the girl on the bus. Eventually we stopped talking about it, and I pushed it from my mind.

It wasn’t until I reached high school that I started paying attention to politics. I started reading books like The War on Choice and A Question of Choice. I stopped needing to go to my mother for my arguments and actually became more liberal in my views than she was. Reproductive rights became one of the few political issues where I knew exactly where I stood, and no amount of arguing would convince me otherwise even for a second.

My body, my choice.
I believe that we as people have the right to decide what our bodies are used for. This includes whether or not we have children. There seems to be this idea out there that the only choice we have a right to make is whether or not to have sex, and that once we agree to have sex then we should accept the consequences. That logic is so flawed that I barely know where to begin. For one, I can’t think of anyone who only has sex for procreation, although that seems to be what anti-choice people are saying. If you don’t want kids, don’t have sex. Yes, because that sounds like a good life. For another thing, women don’t always choose to have sex. Now, I don’t believe that that makes these women more entitled to abortion than other women, but it’s still true. (For more on my views of rape exceptions, read this post.)

But the most important argument I have against this one is this: Children should never be a punishment.
Life is hard enough even if you grow up surrounded by people who love you. It’s even worse when you grow up surrounded by people who never wanted you in the first place. That is no way for a child to live. Anti-choice people seem to think that everyone will eventually grow to love the child, but that’s not true. Sure, maybe some people didn’t want a child but eventually changed their minds, but I’m sure just as many always regret it. And you know what? If you don’t want children, and if you don’t love children, you shouldn’t have children. Mothers should love their children unconditionally. They should be willing to risk their lives for their children. If you don’t feel that way about your own child, you probably shouldn’t have that child.

Quality, not quantity.
There’s this belief, mostly in the Republican party, that the quality of your life doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you are born and that you live for a really long time. I don’t know where we got this idea that life is so wonderful. Sure, some people have great lives, and a lot of people have decent lives. But not everyone has a good life. Being born and then living in pain and misery for your whole life doesn’t sound like a good life to me. I’d rather not be born than be born and grow up in an unloving environment. And you know what? Women are capable to deciding for themselves if they are capable of raising their children up in an unloving environment. If they know they can’t provide for their child, they should be allowed to choose not to have that child.

Adoption is not always the answer.
Are there some people who choose adoption? Of course, and if that’s what the woman wants to do, then by all means she should be allowed to do it. But it’s not for everyone. I know that I wouldn’t want to have my child grow up somewhere else. How do I know that those people will take good care of it? Plus, there are already so many unwanted children in this world. There aren’t enough homes for all of them, and they’re frequently placed with foster parents who don’t really care about them. Plus, the children still have to deal with the pain of knowing that their birth parents didn’t want them. Obviously adoption isn’t all bad – I’m just saying it’s not for everyone.

You can’t be anti-abortion AND anti-birth control and anti-sex ed.
This is one of the most frustration parts about dealing with anti-choice people. If you don’t want people to have abortions, you should be all for education people on how NOT to get pregnant. You should want condoms and birth control pills and all those other forms of contraception to be easily available. You should want people educated on how to use them. Will mistakes still happen? Yes. Is any birth control method 100 percent effective? No. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not still valuable. If more people knew how to have safe sex and realized how important it is, then maybe they wouldn’t need abortion.

People say that teenagers shouldn’t be having sex and that teaching them how to have safe sex sends mixed messages. This isn’t true. Even if we tell them to wait until marriage, they still have to learn sometime. Let’s say they do wait until marriage. Do you instinctively know how to use birth control when you get married?

And even if it did send mixed messages, it’s better than the message we send kids now, which is this: using condoms is a waste of time. Birth control doesn’t work. That is the message that we are giving kids in schools, and then we wonder why so many people get pregnant when they don’t want to have kids.

In the perfect world, we wouldn’t need abortions. We would get pregnant when we wanted to get pregnant, and we wouldn’t get pregnant when we didn’t want to get pregnant. But the world isn’t perfect. You can do everything right, and you can still get pregnant accidentally. And even if you do everything wrong, having a child shouldn’t be your punishment. We shouldn’t take a bad situation and make it worse.

If someone’s house catches on fire, do we just sit and watch while their house burns down? Do we tell them that that’s the consequence of using fire and that they should have known that might happen? Of course not. We call the fire department and stop the fire from getting worse. That’s what abortions are for – for preventing a bad situation from getting worse.

8 thoughts on “Blog for Choice: Celebrating 40 Years of Roe v. Wade

  1. I’m not going to bring up God here since you didn’t in your post. So either you’re an atheist or think God should stay out of your business in regards to children. You lay out good arguments of why abortion is a good idea for preventing unwanted babies. And at least you recognize and acknowledge that they are life. A real baby not just a bunch of cells. But this issue is much bigger than that. Young girls and women do need to be educated to prevent unwanted pregnancies. I agree with you there.

    Where I disagree is in where the responsibility lies with pregnancies. I’m sure you’ve heard of the number of abortions since 1973. You must admit, that’s way out of control? I don’t know the percentage of returning mothers who abort baby 2 or 3 as well, but it happens. The doctors who perform these abortions are making a mint off of these moms. They’re not going to try and talk you out of it. It’s big business to them. Even Planned Parenthood states on their website “1 out of 3 women in the US have an abortion by the time they are age 45 years old.” Doesn’t that seem radically high? We’re talking millions upon millions of abortions. Even if you’re a staunch pro-choice person, you have to admit that something is very wrong in our society?

    • I’m afraid that I’ve misrepresented my opinion. I don’t think it as a baby until it’s born. I *do* consider just a group of cells. In my opinion, that group of cells will never be more important than a real person. I’m afraid I accidentally left that part out of my argument while I was writing. That happens when I try to write without an outline, I guess.

      I do think something is wrong with our society, but it’s not the number of abortions. I think the number of abortions is rather a symptom of the greater problem. I think that the number of abortions would decrease if we made birth control more available and taught people how to use it. Yes, there are some people who abuse the system and treat abortion like birth control, but I don’t believe that’s the majority of women, nor do I believe that we should limit access to abortion because some women make poor choices.

      Thank you for not bringing God into this debate, as I am in fact an atheist, and I would have ignored any such arguments. Thank you also for wording your argument as an actual conversation and not as an attack. It’s nice to know that people can still be civil even when they disagree.

      • No good comes from attacking in my opinion, I think an open yet positive dialog is best when talking about such a controversial subject. After your reply to my comment, I do have a question or two :) First is, have you ever been pregnant? If so, have you ever heard your baby’s heart beat 8 weeks after conception? The baby can hiccup at 10 weeks. If you haven’t been pregnant yet, then it’s hard to explain the feelings of life inside you. You know it, especially when your doctor uses a pre-natal monitor or ultrasound. And why do you think the doctor performing the abortion doesn’t allow the mother to hear the heart beat? or see their baby image on an ultrasound? If it’s a group of cells it shouldn’t matter because it wouldn’t sound or look like life.

        One last question, we talked about the problems in society and you mentioned that you don’t think it’s the number of abortions. So, my question is, in your opinion, is 54 million abortions in 40 years ok? This statistic is in the US only. I’d be afraid to ask the question of world wide number. I do know that Russia aborts more babies than the US.

        Just wondering about your thoughts on my questions. All of the pro-choice people I’ve interacted with (and yes, it’s all been cordial and positive) don’t want to answer those questions. They stick to the mantra “my body my choice.” I would honestly like to hear what you think because I come from a polar view point and don’t understand your side. Thanks!

      • Noreen – I am happy to answer your questions. This will be a rather long post, so please stick with me.

        1) No, I have never been pregnant. I’m still not sure if I even want to have children. If I ever do, though, I imagine that the days I first hear the heartbeat and see the ultrasound will be some of the best of my life. I believe that all mothers *should* be super excited to see their children. I just also believe that if you’re pregnant and aren’t amazed and happy with the heartbeat and stuff, then you shouldn’t be forced to carry through with the pregnancy. If you’re not happy about the thought of being a mother, then you probably can’t be a very good mother. (more on this later)

        2) I don’t think doctors are forbidden from showing women the ultrasounds. In fact, the laws are now changing in a lot of places to force doctors to show women the ultrasounds. I think this is bad because it’s a way to bully women who choose abortions. It’s trying to guilt them into changing their minds. Choosing an abortion is, I imagine, an extremely personal decision, and it’s not always an easy one. Sometimes the women may want to have children but aren’t in a place where they can care for it. Maybe they’re in a horrible relationship and haven’t figured a way out yet. Maybe they don’t have the money to take care of it. There are just a lot of reasons why women choose to have abortions, and forcing them to view an ultrasound is just another way to make them feel bad about a decision that was probably hard for them to make in the first place.

        3) No, I don’t think there’s a problem with that number. I feel sorry for the women who have to make that decision, but by itself I don’t see the problem. I view it instead as this: that’s 54 million children who weren’t forced to live miserable lives with people who didn’t want them.

        If there’s one thing I hope you can take away from what I’m saying, it’s that pro-choice women don’t hate children. In fact, it’s the opposite: we want children to be born to people who are really excited to have them. My favorite pro-choice slogan is this one: “Every child a wanted child.” We want children to have the best lives possible, and I don’t think you can have that if you’re raised by people who don’t want you. It’s about reducing suffering, really. That’s how I view it.

  2. Well said, quix689, and thanks for mentioning the “children should never be a punishment” argument. I am the last of 5 unwanted children of a “pro-life” mom. I would not wish my childhood or early adulthood on anyone. I put off having children until I was 34 because I thought children were a punishment. Fortunately, that is only the case for those who make it so. My kid was the best thing to ever happen to me.

    • Irene – I’m sorry you had such a bad childhood, but I’m really glad that you seem to be in a better place now! Children should definitely make our lives better, not be something that we have to deal with just because they’re there. I wish you and your child all the happiness in the world!

  3. Quix689-you’ve hit the nail on the head for many of the common fallacies in the anti-choice rhetoric. I completely agree that children should be a joy, not a punishment! Wouldn’t it be nice if the “pro-life” folks felt the same way?

    For Noreen: an embryo’s heart starts beating at 4 weeks. HOWEVER, you might be interested to know that this has nothing to do with the embryo suddenly having a “soul” or 4 weeks being of some particular importance. That’s simply when stem cells have differentiated enough to resemble heart cells. Heart cells actually will beat in a Petrie dish. They beat as a result of electrochemical gradients across their plasma membranes. They don’t have to be attached to a “being” to beat, and just because an embryo has beating heart cells doesn’t mean it gets to be equally important with a conscious, sentient woman.

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