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 inviting  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.

“Destructive, vicious, negative”

 This post is a bit late in coming, but this topic has been weighing on my mind for the past week, so I had to say something.

About two weeks ago, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife gave an interview in which she talked about how Gingrich asked her for an “open marriage” so that he could remain married to her but continue the affair he had been having with Callista Bisek, the woman who would become his third wife. By the way, it’s important to note that he proposed to Marianne Gingrich (wife #2) while he was till married to wife #1.

When asked about it during one of the debates, Gingrich was furious, claiming that “the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office,” and that he was “appalled that [they] would begin a presidential debate with a topic like that.”

I watched the opening part of that debate with my boyfriend’s parents, both of whom are Republicans who agreed with Gingrich that the ex-wife’s interview had no place in the debate. The fact that their relationship started when he was still married to his first wife was undoubtedly an influential factor in their opinion, and that is why I did not argue with them when they brought it up. I knew that I could not condemn Gingrich without also condemning my boyfriend’s father, and I didn’t want that.

Still, I was dying to scream that Gingrich was being hypocritical. My boyfriend’s mother tried to say that Gingrich wasn’t just saying that because it was his affair, that he would have said the same thing regardless of who the interview was about, but I find that really hard to believe. As the above interview pointed out, Gingrich was having his affair while he was the Speaker of the House, calling for Clinton’s impeachment because he lied about his affair, claiming that “there is no administration in American history with less moral authority than the Clinton/Gore administration.” 

Statements like that are what make his ex-wife’s interview relevant, as does the fact that Gingrich is running for the party which claims to be the part of moral and family values, the party that claims that we must protect the sanctity of marriage. I fail to understand how two men or women getting married harms marriage but Gingrich’s two divorces and affairs don’t. Plus there’s the fact that he left his first wife after she was diagnosed with cancer, and he left his second wife after she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I guess that whole “in sickness and in health” clause wasn’t really all that important.

If you’re going to claim to have moral authority over the rest of America, you have to live up to those standards. If you’re going to condemn others for having affairs, you can’t have an affair. If you’re going to say that everyone who does drugs should be thrown in jail, you should never have done drugs (yes, I’m referring to another GOP president). If you’re going to say that marriage should be between one man and one woman, you should not ask your wife for an open marriage.

People’s personal lives are relevant when they’re running for public office because these are the people who determine how the rest of us live. Does it matter to me if the gas station attendant cheated on his SATs? No, because it doesn’t interfere with his ability to give me the right change when I buy a soda. Does it matter to me if my doctor cheated his way through medical school? Yes, because that means that he doesn’t actually know everything he needs to in order to treat me. The two jobs are not the same, so people aren’t held to the same standards. As long as the man down the street doesn’t try to stop me from sleeping with my boyfriend before we’re married, it doesn’t matter to me if he sleeps with someone before he’s married.

The second you try to stop someone from doing something, though, you have to make sure that you stop doing that thing, as well. If you’re going to call everyone who cheats on his wife morally bankrupt when you’ve also cheated on your wife, you have to accept the fact that that means that you’re morally bankrupt, as well. And if you’re going to claim to be the party of morals and claim that everyone else is a sinner who can’t be trusted, then you damn well better make sure you live up to those morals, because if you don’t then you’re nothing but a hypocrite.

Can you be a good politician and have cheated on your wife/husband? Yes. Can you claim to be the moral candidate and have cheated on your wife/husband? No. It’s the same as eating meat. Are you a bad person because you eat meat? Of course not. But if the president of Vegans-R-Us ate meat, that would be a very big deal.