Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blog for Choice Day - Why I'm Pro-Choice

From the time I was 18 years old until I was 20, I was in a relationship with someone, and if I were to say that they were not a nice person, it would be the understatement of the decade. He was very controlling and was constantly belittling me and condescending to me. I wasn't allowed to be myself when I was around him; he didn't like my extroverted personality, and he made it known in no uncertain terms when I had displeased him by daring to be happy in his presence by giving me the cold shoulder and telling me that I embarrassed him. Eventually, he didn't have to worry about it, because he effectively killed my happiness. He would sulk and call me horrible names when he didn't get his way, and once he cheated off of my homework (without my knowledge) and put both of us at risk of not only failing the class, but of getting kicked out of the academic program to which we belonged. When I confronted him about it, he got angry at me for getting angry at him. Nothing was ever his fault, and he never took responsibility for anything. The real kicker was the time that, after I gave him a surprise hug, he grabbed me by my wrist, refused to let go, and told me that he was a black belt and that he was trained to react, therefore, if he ever hit me, it was my own fault. Thankfully, the violence never escalated past that, even though I stayed with him for another six months after the incident, but it very easily could have.

I chose to be in a sexual relationship with this person, and if it weren't for my birth control pills, I might have gotten pregnant by him. There were a couple of times where I thought that I might have, and each time I knew immediately that I would have an abortion. I knew from a very early age that I never wanted children, and I also knew that having his child would tie me to him forever. Despite his attempts to control everything I thought, said, and did, being tied to him forever was not an option for me, and while his controlling, abusive behavior killed everything else in me, it thankfully did not kill my belief that I had the right to make a choice. This is one of the many reasons why I am pro-choice--because there are so many other women who are in similar (and worse) situations. For many women, the right to a safe, legal abortion is their only saving grace in an abusive relationship, whether the abuse is physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, etc. Leaving an abusive situation is difficult enough--add a child/children into the mix, and it becomes nearly impossible.

Somewhere along the line, the term "pro-choice" came to mean "pro-abortion," and apparently any person who is pro-choice wants all pregnant women to terminate their pregnancies regardless of whether or not they want to. These accusations come from the anti-choice crowd, which is comprised of the Republicans, the "Religious Right," etc., who want all pregnant women to continue their pregnancies regardless of whether or not they want to...sound familiar? Apparently, it's perfectly ok to control women's bodies as long as your agenda falls into the right category. Unfortunately for the anti-choice crowd, pro-choice does NOT mean we want all pregnant women to indiscriminately terminate their pregnancies--it means we want all pregnant women to have a choice in the matter, whether she chooses to have an abortion or continue the pregnancy and parent the child or put hir up for adoption. Whether a woman is in an abusive relationship, she was raped, she had a casual encounter, or she's in a relationship, whether a woman had a consensual encounter and used some form of contraception and had an "oops" or didn't use contraception at all, she has the right to say no or yes to a pregnancy. It is her choice, and nobody else's.

If a woman chooses not to continue the pregnancy, for whatever reason, she should have the right to access a safe, legal, affordable abortion. If a woman chooses to continue the pregnancy, she should have the right to a safe and healthy pregnancy and birthing experience, whether it's in a hospital or at home. If she chooses to place the child up for adoption, she should have the right to ensure that the child goes to a loving, healthy family, free from abuse and neglect. If she chooses to parent, she should have the right to financial assistance should she need it, as well as parenting classes, support groups, etc. The fact of the matter is that pregnant women, whether they choose to terminate a pregnancy or continue it, have very little agency when it comes to their reproductive health, and this has to change.