Friday, January 22, 2010

I Am Pregnant and I Am Pro-Choice!

Today, on the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I renew my commitment to the pro-choice principles that form the core of my morality.

While the non-feminist media generally uses the term pro-choice as shorthand for "supports a woman's right to have an abortion," my pro-choice stance is not limited to this narrow policy position. To me, pro-choice is the fundamental principle of a morality that respects human life, dignity, and autonomy. In recognizing the limits of my own experience and respecting the rights of others to make the best choices for themselves and their families, I affirm the most sacred law in my moral universe: "As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" (Luke 6:31).

I trust women to decide how many children they will have, whether that number is zero or thirty. I am delighted to live in a country where Michelle Duggar is free to carry 19 children, but I am not forced to do the same. Whether they reach their desired family size through adoption, IVF, abortion, surrogacy, gamete donation, or any other legal means, I trust women to make the right choices for themselves and their families.

I trust women to decide when they wish to have children. I made a deliberate choice to conceive Snapdragon and I respect the rights of other women to make intelligent decisions about sex, birth control, pregnancy, and abortion. I do not want to live in an anti-choice country like China or Ireland, where the government limits women's reproductive rights.

I trust women to safeguard their own health and the health of their families, and I support universal access to high-quality health care in order to support them. What good are choices if they are limited by wealth or geography? I trust women to make intelligent decisions about their medical care and I expect lawmakers and medical professionals to treat them as the ultimate authorities on that care.

I trust women to make decisions about birth. As I embark on my own pregnancy/birth journey, I know that the choices I make will be intensely personal and that I will make them with Snapdragon's safety and my own wellbeing in mind. I know what's right for me and my family and I will never shame another woman for choosing home birth, scheduled c-section, drug-free birth, epidural anasthesia, hospital birth, hypno-birth, water birth, etc. I trust birthing women to make decisions about their care and believe that they are entitled to adequate information, knowledgeable advocates, and respectful caregivers.

I trust women to choose their own counselors. Whether they make decisions in consultation with a spouse, parents, siblings, friends, lovers, family, spiritual advisors, colleagues, therapists, doctors, deities, or no one at all, I trust them to know in whom to place their trust. I suspect that very few women choose to consult with the United States Congress in personal matters, but I suppose they could if they really wanted to.

I could continue this list for 20 pages. I trust women (and men) to choose their own spouses. I trust women to educate their children in a way that is respectful of their families' beliefs, no matter how much I may disagree with the content of that education. I trust women to make decisions about their professional lives and I believe that workplaces have a responsibility to make meaningful choice available (by paying a living wage, offering family leave, providing a safe work environment, guaranteeing equal pay, etc.). I trust women to manage their end-of-life care. I trust women to manage their own lives!

Being pro-choice means so much more than supporting access to abortion. Pro-choice is a worldview that recognizes the humanity, dignity, and basic rights of all people. It is the cornerstone of my morality.

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