The people at NARAL/Pro-Choice America have declared today (35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade) Blog For Choice Day. Topic: why it's important to vote pro-choice.
I'm not going to talk about teen pregnancy/parental notification issues, or the inevitability of unsafe abortions being performed if abortion were made illegal, or the horribly classist economics of a ban on abortion (the financially secure can travel elsewhere; banning abortion would primarily, unfairly, affect low-income women). I'm not going to get into the shameful problems of the foster care system, or the rotten double standards we have in this country about sex education, birth control, and responsibility for pregnancy. However tempted, I won't get into the smarmy hypocrisy of many so-called "pro-lifers." All those represent good reasons to vote pro-choice; all are topics worth expanding upon.
Instead, I approach this issue from the only perspective I can with personal authority: that of having been pregnant.
Pregnancy is an intensely personal thing.
At about 16 weeks gestation, an expectant mother can have a procedure called amniocentesis, by which a sample of the fluid around the fetus is withdrawn with a needle and analyzed. Amniocentesis can detect a whole slew of genetic abnormalities, from Downs Syndrome to conditions that might make it impossible for a child to live long outside the womb.
Nobody makes you have amnio. Many parents feel that they want to know what's knowable; they might not terminate a pregnancy for any reason, but knowing about certain conditions in advance will help them prepare. Others opt not to do it because their risks of carrying the conditions it tests for are lower than the risk of miscarriage posed by the procedure itself, and/or because they believe whatever happens is in God's hands and they'll cross whatever bridges they need to when they need to.
Some parents, after intense and gut-wrenching soul searching, identify conditions under which they do believe a pregnancy would be best terminated. Within this group, the range of those conditions is probably quite large. There are countless scenarios you play out in your mind at that time. Maybe, what if, maybe, what if. It's nervewracking; it can be heartbreaking.
Overwhelmingly usually, everything comes out fine, as with our Peanut (we didn't have an amnio with the Bean, but my being 36 instead of 35 changed some risk numbers significantly for my second pregnancy).
However. If it hadn't: Nobody would've belonged in that decision but me, my husband, and my doctor. Doctors for information, then just me and my husband. And of the two of us, ultimately I am the one... what, gifted? saddled? ...with the biology, therefore the power, therefore the responsibility, of that. We thought long and hard about where our boundaries are, what our beliefs are, what "doing the right thing" would be, in various scenarios. We'd both have had to live with any decision; for me it'd have been visceral.
It is unspeakably wrong that The Government might declare that I am not allowed to make that most personal of decisions. I am deeply troubled by efforts to legislate that power away from women. In the big picture, it's about control and subjugation. Be afraid; be very afraid.
For that, and for the factors alluded to above: I'm pro-choice -- and I vote.