To be pro-choice is to believe in the fundamental rights of women to be the deciders of their reproductive fates. From contraception to abortion to birth and parenting, reproductive justice is the radical notion that women are people who are entitled to the same rights to make decisions about their bodies as non-pregnant people.
“YES! Freedom means you are free to make your own choices – advisable or responsible or otherwise.”
The words “Advisable” and “Responsible” indicate that there is some sort of universal barometer for “appropriate” choices. If there is a barometer, who places those subjective labels upon which choices we make?
Women are entitled to whatever contributors we find valuable to assessing our circumstances and making decisions about them – whether that’s peer reviewed studies, opinion and policy papers, conversations with a care provider and / or loved one and / or partner, anecdotes, Google, prayer, tarot cards, or chanting at the moon.
“Pro CHOICE doesn’t have to mean pro Abortion.”
Pro choice means pro woman’s choice whatever it is. It means not feeling entitled to weigh in on another person’s bodily decisions.
It’s also important to clarify what it means to be “pro-abortion.” Pro abortion doesn’t mean one thinks every woman should make the choice to terminate a pregnancy. It does, however, mean that one believes abortion is an important part of women’s healthcare and that it should be accessible for those who need it.
“But what about the baby’s right to bodily autonomy?!”
Who is most invested in a pregnancy and a fetus? The pregnant person’s interests are not in conflict with their fetus. No matter the decision a woman makes about whether to continue carrying a pregnancy, the interests of a pregnant person converge with that of her fetus.
The terms “babies” and “children” are not interchangeable with the term “fetus.” A fetus is dependent on a host body for survival. It is not, therefore, entitled to the same autonomy rights as born people because it quite simply doesn’t have bodily autonomy to begin with.
“Why shouldn’t the baby have a say? Abortion is murder!”
The “abortion is murder” trope is tired and inflammatory. The biggest problem with this language is the intended shaming and vilification that goes along with it. Women endure this kind of language at every turn. We experience it pretty much any time we make a choice another person wouldn’t make. Our lives – and especially our reproductive health – have been cast as a platform wherein anyone is entitled to weigh in with opinions and scrutiny.
But our bodies are not democracies.
The *rightness* or *wrongness* of any choice women make about their reproductive health – whether contraception, abortion, or birth – are not public agenda items open for everyone’s scrutinizing and weigh in.
“What I cannot stand about abortion is how some women treat it as contraception.”
Abortion is not contraception no matter how many unplanned pregnancies one has had. No one says, “yeah, taking half a week or more off for a surgical procedure and paying $600-800 a pop – much easier than a condom or the pill any day.”
Not only that, though, where is the same narrative of responsibility for men? Why is it that only the ‘slut’ with 7 terminations is vilified for her lack of contraception? Our sinister views of women are revealed in instances where the narrative of responsibility and shame is consistently lobbed solely onto the person who is able to become pregnant.
“Well, I would never choose an abortion. I think it’s wrong.”
It matters not what decisions we think we would make in any given circumstance – whether about what contraception is right for us or if we’d choose an abortion or what kind of birth we want. The choices we make are not static or extractable from another’s experience – they are fluid and subjective and highly influenced by our life experiences. Our socioeconomic status matters, our levels of support, our background and exposure to abuse, our ability to access culturally competent care, our physical, emotional, and mental health all play a part in our life’s narrative and what we, personally, know ourselves to be capable of.
Smacking other women around with their choices-not-like-ours completely deflects us from our agenda of autonomy.
Calling women “whores” when they use birth control, or “murderers” when they have an abortion, or “selfish” when they have a homebirth, or “uneducated” when they have a medicated birth plays into the narrative that suggests that women are culpable in their own oppression.
One can not hold a moral objection to abortion and in the same breath insist that women hold rights to autonomy in birth. If that is your position, you value the vesselhood of women’s bodies, not the integrity of women’s rights.
To identify as Anti-Choice is in conflict with birth work and birth justice work.
One can not be pro-woman and simultaneously anti-choice. This goes for any choice women are faced with along the reproductive health spectrum. If you challenge women’s choices about contraception, abortion OR birth, you do are not pro-woman. If you are a birth worker, birth advocate or birth activist and identify as anti-choice when it comes to abortion, your position is in conflict with your work.
The fight for contraception and abortion is the same struggle we are in with birth – it is a fight for dignity. It is a fight that insists that women hold the same rights to bodily integrity as non-pregnant people