"The states are not free, under the guise of protecting maternal health or potential life, to intimidate women into continuing pregnancies." -Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Roe v. Wade, 22 January 1973
It would be impossible for us all to share one unifying opinion about abortion, but I hope that in the future everyone can agree that it is a woman's choice and a woman's choice only what she does with her body, and that neither an individual nor a governing body can make that decision for her. If you "would never", then that's great, and I support that. I really do. I don't know if I could go through an abortion, either, and thankfully - because of classroom education and my mother teaching me about how to make safe choices while I was growing up - I've never had to make a choice so difficult. But one woman's "I could never" is not license to say to another woman, "You can't ever, either". We need to support one another in the choices we make, without judgment, without vitriol, but with love and understanding.
I don't believe that a man has the right to force a woman into a decision one way or the other, because carrying a child to term and birthing it is a physical experience he is incapable of performing. This is not to say that men don't necessarily have a place in the abortion debate; I just feel that their opinions tend to be more speculative. Unless you face the very real possibility of pregnancy, I don't think you can know for sure.
I believe in comprehensive sex education. It is not a question of morality; it is about providing young adults with enough information to know how to deal with the world as social creatures, and that not only involves knowing how pregnancy occurs and how to prevent conception, but how to minimise the likelihood of disease. It is as crucial to adult functioning as is knowing how to make a budget, shop at the grocery store, pay bills on time, and how to be tactful and polite to the people around you. If it is not taught at home, and sometimes it isn't, I think there is definitely a space for it in school curriculum (and I believe learning how to manage money should be taught in high school, too). An abstinence-only program creates problems where there could be awareness and solutions. Encouraging a teenager to sign a vow of chastity and then turning them loose into a world full of highly-sexualised images (mostly of women, but reforming this world into one which does not demean and objectify women is another huge undertaking altogether) just doesn't work. Teaching them about preventing disease, contraception, and showing footage of childbirth grounds them in reality, or at least gives them a place to start navigating the choppy waters of human sexuality.
I also think that if people are going to be loud and proud about being pro-life, then they might consider being more supportive of single mothers. You cannot proclaim the sanctity of human life in one breath and then direct epithets to women who either choose to parent alone or are not given that choice, with the other. I find it interesting that the judgment and blame for single motherhood, in most cases, falls soley on the woman; what of the man? I know a very bright young teenager - a minor - who is now about five months pregnant to a boy who is most definitely not a minor. I would not call him a man, because he cannot and will not step up to his responsibility. He gets off relatively scot-free, despite impregnating not one but two girls (his other baby is due in February), with no-one calling him out, or whispering behind his back that he must be a whore. He does not have to live with rumour and slander and changing diapers and not getting a full night's sleep for upwards of two years. He was caught having sex with yet another girl just in the past month. He hasn't got it into his head that there are repercussions, nor does he know anything about respecting a woman, nor does he seem to know about using protection. The girl in question also had responsibility, but she never learnt about it in school, and was rebelling against her mother by going out with this boy in the first place (so one might wonder if she would have listened anyway). A more academic study of sex ed, as would be presented in school, stands a far better chance of "taking" than does the more informal "birds and bees" talk so many teens have with their parents. It also eliminates the personal feelings of embarrassment that a teenager, in the throes of serious hormonal upheaval and brain/body development, might have when even thinking about asking his or her parents for advice on the matter. I feel very much that unplanned motherhood and abortion rates would decline if religious fervour were seperated from study and teenagers were allowed to learn about human sexuality in schools.
It is so hard to gather my thoughts on this matter without being longwinded or drifting off my point. I just wanted to write about why I'm pro-choice and pro-education on this very imporant anniversary, one which I hope can be observed for a long time to come instead of being thrown out with the trash, as I believe our current administration would like it to be.
P.S.: Mr. Bush, you can't declare this day "Sanctity of Human Life Day
" if your political track record regarding the death penalty, erroneous wars, and not giving one iota of care to marginalized citizens (veterans, working-class, lower-class, poverty-level, single mothers - the list goes on) is to be believed. Good day, sir.