Michele Spencer: What value does the pro-birth movement actually have?
Our forefathers fled intolerance and government overreach and fashioned our Constitution to protect American citizens from both. Hence we have freedom of religion and speech, due process, equal protection etc. and presently the right to an abortion during the first two trimesters of a pregnancy.
I was raised Catholic, would never have an abortion, yet remain pro-choice as are many. That is because I realize that there are at least two equally ethical, religious beliefs regarding when human personhood (i.e. viability) can be determined, which beliefs must be tolerated under our laws. Whether one believes that the soul or human life begins at conception or at its first breath independent of the mother, it is a protected belief and requires our respect and tolerance even if we disagree.
To many, a fetus is not a baby, an abortion is not a sin. Many also believe it immoral to give birth to an unwanted child or to a child that cannot be provided consistent food, clothing, shelter, love and education. No woman should be compelled to endure an unwanted pregnancy or be shamed, criticized or made to feel guilty for the decisions she makes about her own body and reproductive health. Who are we to judge or call such a person a murderer? Why should government be so intimately involved in these highly personal decisions? Aren’t we taking a woman’s life away when we take away her rights? Besides, as my grandmother used to say, “Everyone must be allowed to seek their own redemption.” Who are we to interfere with that process?
In fact, the arguments of the anti-choice folk really come down to a “pro-birth” rather than a pro-life point of view because these same conservatives want small government and no safety net for indigent women. They don’t seem to care that these indigent women need help with the mandated new life for which they have been made responsible. They don’t seem to appreciate that all women need control of what happens to their own bodies, be it simple healthcare or effective contraception or abortion when necessary. Beyond that, these conservative folk also promote the continued degradation of women because without choice there is no equality. They don’t seem to appreciate that the world has changed and requires more enlightened policies. Biology need no longer be a woman’s destiny.
Planned Parenthood should not be defunded. I am grateful to that organization for providing me with the sex education I had not been given and the contraception I needed to continue my schooling although married. They empowered me to develop myself before I took on motherhood. Besides, Planned Parenthood has done nothing wrong. Clearly, aborted remains should be provided for medical research rather than thrown away. The callous and thoughtless remarks of some of their staff are not justification for defunding that organization. Often such behavior is just an occupational hazard. Have you ever talked to a medical student about the cadaver they are working on or funeral staff about the corpses they embalm? If anything, Planned Parenthood does more to prevent abortion than to facilitate it. They simply help women to plan when it would be best to have a family. Abortion is by no means their focus.
Finally, the world is clearly beginning to have more people than its resources can support. Promoting the idea of smaller families (or maybe even the option to have no family) may forestall worldwide hunger, disease and perhaps even extinction. Pro Choice is ultimately the most responsible and lawful position one could take in the matter. Conservatives are distracting us from dealing with larger problems.
Michele Spencer lives in Grass Valley.
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