Monday, January 22, 2007

Blog for Choice 2007

I have a ten-year-old son whom I love more than I ever thought possible to love anything. He occupies every thought that I have, from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep. He even occasionally lives in my dreams. He has given meaning to my life that is indescribable and is unfathomable to anyone who has never raised a child. Never before has a human being brought me so much joy or so much pain, yet every second of pain is worth it simply because it can exist simultaneously with the joy he brings.

In 1995, when I found out I was pregnant, I was given a choice. I could carry the pregnancy to term and allow another family to experience the joy of raising a child or I could choose to raise him myself. Alternatively, I could terminate the pregnancy and carry on with my life. I chose to carry the pregnancy to term and raise the child with the support of my husband. Unfortunately, when my son was four-months-old I went through a very surprising and painful divorce. For several months, I spent every day just trying surviving the pain. Finally, after what seemed like forever, I realized that the knife in my chest had loosened itself to the point where I didn’t have to remind myself to breath. I attribute my survival to my son. Although he didn’t do anything but lay there and coo, he became the reason I needed to keep going.

I was lucky when I got pregnant in that I had a very supportive husband and extended family. After I lost the support of my husband, I still had my family to encourage me to go on with my life and raise my son. Not everyone is that lucky. Some women and girls find themselves pregnant with no one to turn to. Maybe they were raped, maybe the sex was consensual. It doesn’t really matter. They find themselves with an unexpected pregnancy.

I could have aborted my son eleven years ago. I could have placed him for adoption. Those were my choices, not yours. I do not now, nor will I ever, regret my decision to keep him and raise him. But it was still my decision. He has fulfilled me in a way that I cannot describe but not every woman or girl is ready for that lifetime commitment for whatever reason. And quite frankly, the reasons are irrelevant. Abortion is not a decision that one comes to lightly and the respect that we show all patients of care providers in any other medical situation should apply to those seeking abortions as well.

The history of the battle for reproductive rights has had a tremendous affect upon every American – women and men equally. Reproductive rights are traditionally viewed as a struggle between the religious right and the pro-choice left. But what is perhaps more accurate, is the fact that no one can argue that choosing to have an abortion is a deeply personal issue. This is not a choice that can or should be made by a relatively faceless governmental body but rather by the individual(s) who are or will be directly affected by the choice.

According to the Supreme Court, the Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments of the United States Constitution are all a part of the rationale that was behind legalizing abortion in the 1970’s because those amendments ensure the right to privacy with regards to citizens being secure from unreasonable searches and seizures, to not being deprived of liberty, and to not being denied other rights that are retained by said citizens. Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees that all citizens of the United States shall not be the denied equal protection of laws. In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that Amendment 14 grants an implicit “right to privacy.”

The irony of being an American woman in today’s society is that an abortion can cost anywhere from $300 to $2000 depending on where one is able to get the procedure done and how far into the pregnancy one is. Women from all over the United States travel to larger cities in order to obtain abortions for many reasons including the fact that there is nowhere to receive a late-term abortion in her hometown because it is against the law or no one in the town will do the procedure. But in 2007, abortion in America is legal. It is a woman’s choice to terminate a pregnancy; the Supreme Court has affirmed this time and time again. Yet it can still be extremely difficult and costly for a woman to terminate her pregnancy. This is in direct violation of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution wherein every person is subject to equal protection under the law.

The current climate of various United States legislative bodies decrying abortion as a criminal act is also a violation of the Constitution. The 9th Amendment guarantees that the Constitution will not go against rights that are retained by the citizens of the United States. Therefore, it is appropriate to assume that an issue such as abortion, which has polarized our nation since its inception, should be put to the people for a referendum rather than government officials passing legislation which may or may not actually mirror what the people want.

All religious and moral undertones must be removed from the abortion debate and it must be seen only as a public health issue. While it is unfortunate that some see abortion and reproductive rights as a moral issue, it is true that not every American sees it that way. The First Amendment guarantees that American citizens will never be subject to the religious laws of others and by pushing a pro-choice agenda upon miscellaneous citizens at large, the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments are being violated.

The only way to ensure that the abortion issue is fair and equal for every citizen is to allow any woman, of any age, at any stage of pregnancy, under any circumstances, at any health clinic or hospital, to receive a safe, legal abortion which is affordable even to the lowest-income citizens. All laws regulating the circumstances of abortion should be abolished and the choice should be put to the individual. No one should ever be forced into receiving an abortion but should be available to those who desire them.

Why am I pro-choice? Because I am pro-people. I am all for people knowing what is best for them rather than leaving it to government or religious groups. I am pro-choice because reproductive freedom should be an inalienable right. It is not something that is to be debated by politicians or preachers. It is not something that is to be made into public fodder while women and girls are forced to sit idly by and have no voice or system for maintaining a sense of self. Abortion is a decision that is best left to the woman or girl involved and no one else except her care provider. Abortion is very personal and not something that can be entrusted to people’s emotions and ideologies.

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