Sunday, June 28, 2009

On Choice, and Why I Believe in It: Part 1

This is a 3-part series on choice. Part 1 deals with abortion and contraception. Part 2 deals with birthing. Part 3 deals with breastfeeding and childcare.

I believe in choice. For women specifically, because that is the experience I have had. Men can decide for themselves whether they want choice (or not).

But I digress. Choice and women. Two words that are surprisingly inflammatory when put together. And I'm not just talking about the A word, although that is part of it. I'm also talking about birthing choices, and contraception choices and breastfeeding choices and childcare choices. All of these are particularly relevant to women because, well let's face it, my body is involved.

On Monday, on my way home from work I heard a story on NPR about the aftermath in Wichita of George Tiller's murder. Let me just get this out here so we can get it out of the way... I am pro-choice. Which means, that some of you reading this will now look for anything and everything that you can find to disagree with my position. I am also pro-life, which means that others of you are now struggling to keep reading.

Pregnancy 6

But I want you to hear me out. I believe that the decision to continue or terminate a pregnancy is a decision that can only be finally made by the woman whose uterus is in question. I believe that there are other stakeholders (such as the father) whose opinions should be given weight; but, in the end, it is the woman who will bear the vast majority of the weight of the decision one way or the other.

I don't think I need to explain how mothers experience discrimination in the workforce and how that decision to have a child can have an adverse affect on your career. Or how having a child (and the concomitant costs associated with that birth - see part 2) can drastically drag down the family finances. I can go on and on about the negative effect having a child can bring to a woman's life.

But, a child also brings much that is positive. However, those positive things don't really factor in to our current American idea of success and happiness. Which may be one of the reasons that we're seeing our birthrate decline - we just don't place enough value on children and parenthood for today's generations to be willing to give up some of the pluses of not having a mini-me around.


I believe that the decision to bring a child into this world is probably one of the most important decisions you can make. And that if you don't feel that a child will have more pros than cons you shouldn't have one. Period. We have enough screwed up people in this world without adding more to it. And there are enough people out there who love children and who will decide to have them that the human race won't cease to exist. So, let's not make a baby unless we have thoroughly thought out the consequences to having one.

Which brings me to my second point: contraception. Abortion is NOT a valid method of contraception. The word contraception broken down into its parts means "not/against" + "conceiving". Abortion occurs after that conception and prevents the process from continuing. Abortioncontraception.

I believe that abortion would never be necessary if quality birth control were freely available to all. But, it's not. Even to me, a woman who is of majority age, married, and who has decent insurance - contraception is still held hostage. Birth control, the kind with the highest effective percentages, is a controlled substance. Which means that my doctor (or in my case midwives) and my pharmacist get to have a say as to whether or not I get the kind of birth control that I want and when I want it. And that insurance companies also refuse to cover various methods of proven birth control.

It happened to me not that long ago. Communication between my midwife and my pharmacist got a bit wonky and I was unable to get my prescription refilled for 3 weeks. And my insurance company denied coverage of a birth control method that would make my life so much easier (and would prevent that miscommunication problem from ever happening again). Even in 21st century America, the land of the free, where choice is king, I am not able to choose to control my fertility.

In such a system, its no wonder that women feel their only option is termination of pregnancy. I'm certain that women who choose abortion would have preferred to never have had to make that decision. No one likes abortion.

But we cannot, and I repeat, we cannot remove that option from women without first providing adequate and 100% available birth control. Second, we must remove the negative effects that motherhood has on the woman by providing equal pay, adequate leave, affordable birthing options, and accessible child care. We must allow women to make the choice for themselves.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I'll talk about birthing choices (or the lack thereof); and Part 3 will focus on breastfeeding and childcare choices.


Rachel said...

Very well done post on such touchy topics Hannah!

I don't know if you'd agree, but I'd add that history should be a consideration as well when debating the 'a' issue. I don't think this is something you can give and then take away. When it wasn't legal before (and in places where it still isn't legal), women will get it done no matter the risks and there will always be someone to do it (whether for the greed/money or just because of their beliefs in choice). Many women died this way. Legally removing that option does not insure that it won't happen...I think history will just repeat itself.

Jenny said...

Not sure why I didn't realize you had a blog before, but I'm glad I finally figured it out! I really like this post, and am anxiously awaiting the next 2 in the series! ps, I've thought this before, but after tonight at church I just HAD to say something - you have such a sweet, beautiful, voice. It's so pure and honest when you sing, and I just love it. :)