[Content note: detailed discussion or abortion. Includes mentions of rape and medical procedures.]
With the anniversary of Wendy Davis' filibuster last week, some really disheartening and outright upsetting Supreme Court decisions, and some recent personal interactions, the topic of abortion rights and reproductive choices has been on my mind.
It's no secret that I am unapologetically pro-choice. I think I have made that case here thoroughly. But right now my head is swirling with all the questions that I want to ask the people on the right, or those who identify as "pro-life" because these questions are what weigh on my mind when I consider this issue.
This isn't a comprehensive or even well articulated post on the subject of reproductive rights. If you need that, click elsewhere. But it is a list of questions I have for those folks...and stuff I need to get off my chest right now.
First and foremost, if you think that the government can legislate what medical procedures occur between a person and their doctor, where do you draw the line? Can the government start telling a man that he MUST donate an organ to save his cousin for whom he's a match? Can legislators force a cancer riddled 80 year old to go through unwanted chemo?
If this desire to interfere with medicine is exclusive to pregnancies and stopping abortion, are you going to start supporting comprehensive sex education? Are you going to make access to various forms of contraceptives more accessible? Are you going to actually take the steps that would actually lower unintended pregnancies?
Because evidence shows you are not.
Do you even know why people are seeking abortions? Do you listen to them? Have you ever heard deeply personal stories like the testimony shared at the Texas State Capitol last year when thousands of pro-choice individuals showed up to explain how this decision is not made lightly? Did you hear women sharing through tears about the rapes and abuse they suffered that led to pregnancies? Did you hear would be mothers explaining that because of access to safe and legal abortion they were allowed the dignity of choosing a D&E when their very much wanted babies were found to have severe defects (so that they didn't have to prolong their pain through a full term pregnancy?) Did you hear the firm and clear voiced people who explained exactly why they weren't emotionally or financially ready and how having a child wouldn't have been healthy for either party?
Because I was listening to them, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I couldn't judge them for their choices in those circumstances, regardless of whether or not I might have made the same decisions.
But you talk about "personal responsibility" through all of this. "People need to take personal responsibility for their actions." OK, so let me ask this, are you really comfortable forcing MORE kids into existence that people aren't ready for, born into chaotic environments or poverty or to parents who just legitimately didn't want them? Does this sound like any way to have a "life?" I'm not suggesting that everyone who has an unintended pregnancy would be a bad parent, but as a survivor of child abuse, I'm very concerned and sensitive about the potential of sending kids into situations which set them at a disadvantage from the start.
But maybe we could change that, right? Are you at least going to increase social safety nets so that families who want kids but feel they can't afford them can support this decision? Are you going to create safe, reliable national child care? Are you going to create paid maternity and paternity leave? Are you going to increase access to food stamps so that children can be fed? Are you going to invest in public education so they can learn? Are you going to make higher education available to them?
Again, the evidence suggests not.
So what it comes down to, really, is forcing people to carry pregnancies to term. And since that's what you want--are YOU going to be the one to tell the 14 year old rape victim that they must deliver their rapist's baby? Are YOU going to tell the woman who very much wanted to have a child, but which has severe fetal abnormalities that she must carry that pregnancy to term only to deliver a child that has a 100% chance of dying just minutes after birth in her arms? Are YOU going to hold her hand as it happens and look her in the eyes and tell her that she had to do this because YOU are "pro-life?" Are YOU going to tell a 23 year old with two kids under three years old, trying to do the best that she can, that she must have that third child because the condom broke? And when you deny a D&E to a woman whose miscarriage hasn't progressed normally and is at risk of infection and death that YOU are willing to let her die? And when she dies, are you going to tell her other three children, now without a mother, that you had to do this because you are "pro-life?"
Are you even actually "pro-life" at all?
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