AlterNet: Blogs: PEEK: Barbara O'Brien
has an excellent post on Alternet about the false dichotomy the media promotes in the abortion debate. She points out that the inaccurately labelled "pro-choice" side is only trying to preserve legal protections established by Roe V. Wade, while the also inaccurately named "pro-life" lobby is peopled with religious fanatics who are completely out of step with the will of the majority of the American people.
In a democracy, it's a slippery slope to tout the will of the people, lest it impose a "tyranny of the majority" that limits the rights of a minority group. In this case, however, it's appropriate because the rights opposed by the anti-choice movement are not their own, but the rights of others. No one is advocating that a woman who doesn't believe in abortion must have one. People simply need the option to terminate an unwanted pregnancy if one occurs.
The reasons are many, the result is that a pregnancy simply does not proceed to birth. You can ascribe any spiritual significance you want to the process of fertilization and gestation, but so can I. Ultimately, I still think that we have to take the focus off the fetus and put it on the woman impregnated. That woman has the right of self-determination - to choose how she will live, what will happen to her body. That's why I created the Women's Sovereignty Movement (WAM) site, and I wish more bloggers would focus on the simple concept that a woman has a right to her own body.
A woman is not the property of the state, of her husband or her father. That would seem an obvious statement, but the law hasn't fully embraced that simple reality yet, nor has the proponents of patriarchal religions. This is why it would have been nice to have an ERA amendment which would clarify things for the monotheists, who can't be reached with reason. They are in the habit of setting great store in things that are written down by some authority or other. (I think men should be glad women are willing to settle for equality, but that's another post for another time.)
If the focus is put on the woman, the debate changes. It moves away from mystical theories of "ensoulment" to the dangers faced by women in the American society of the 21st Century. A woman in an abusive relationship who becomes pregnant will be tied to her abuser for the rest of her life by law. A girl with an abusive parent is in danger of a beating, or worse, if a pregnancy is disclosed. A woman who is forced to seek a back-alley abortion is likely to die in the hands of a butcher. A woman who is ill can die as the result of a full-term pregnancy. These women need the protection of the state, and there's no way to determine who is and isn't in danger. No woman should have to face a court or a legislature to make a decision about something that can endanger her life, and that will most decidedly change her life if she isn't given sovereignty over her own person. The self-evident rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness can all be limited by an enforced birth - how hard is that to understand?
Monday was Blog for Choice day, and I'm sorry that I missed it. There was plenty to read in the blogosphere, though, and I hope you cruise around and find it. I wanted to join in, but I was dealing with some personal demons that prevented me from being around Monday. I do believe solidarity is important, though I'm sure my readers have no doubt as to why I support legal abortions.
Labels: abortion, choice, ERA, sovereignty, women