By Richard Bleil
This post won’t win me any friends, and may even cost a few. Let me start by saying that the intention here is not to change anybody’s mind, but rather, to explain mine. Whether you agree with me or not, I hope that this gives you something to consider.
Yes, I am pro-choice. No, that does not make me pro-abortion.
Abortion is a medical procedure, and like any medical procedure, it does carry with it risks. It always will. But, as a medical procedure, I also know that sometimes, it is medically necessary. Probably the most common pro-life argument is that they wish to protect the life of the infant. That’s fine, I understand that, but I’m also worried about the life of the mother. Anti-abortion movements are often about passing legislation to ban all abortions, and are blind to the health and needs of the expecting mothers. If the pregnancy risks the life of the mother, then the pro-life movement seems a bit short-sided when it ignores the life of the mother as well. I also believe in protecting the mental health and well-being of the mother if the infant will be still-born. I cannot imagine the cruelty of forcing a woman to carry a baby to term that cannot survive.
Pro-choice advocates often advocate for mothers who are the victims of rape or incest. Pro-life advocates will no doubt point out that the mother may be a victim of these crimes, but the baby is not. Here we enter the realm of the second reason that I am pro-choice, namely, it’s none of my damned business.
It seems as though, these days, America has become a nation that advocates for the right of everybody to have the exact same belief that I have. I cannot express how disturbing it is that we have moved from a nation of “I do not agree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it” to one of “believe what you wish but only if I approve.”
We see it too often. There are many who predicate for the right to pray in school. Where I currently live, there is actually a routine “demonstrate” for freedom of religion every week, but when you agree with them that Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists have the right to practice their religion, they will quickly turn you away. Ask those who want to bring prayer to schools for students to pray to Mecca, and they will frequently make it clear that what they truly intend is for the right for Christian prayer in school. The same goes for teaching creationism. Their argument quickly narrows to the Biblical definition of creationism alone if you suggest a class on various world religion views.
I’m an American. That means that I am not required to believe what you believe, and it is no my right to insist that you believe what I do. The constitution clearly separates state from church, and for good reason. Some of the most brutal, unforgiving and cruel governments in the world are theocratic in nature. Whether people want to believe it or not, Christian based theocracy is no better. Over two million people died in the “Holy” Crusades. How many people were tortured in the Spanish Inquisition, or the Salem Witch Trials.
Now, a Christian does have the right to express their view. But that doesn’t give anybody, regardless of religion, the right to impose their rights onto others. Regardless of my opinions, it is simply not my job to impose my beliefs onto others. Yes, remind her of the options to adopt, but the mother has to make her decision, and it won’t always be easy. I pity any woman who is faced with this challenging decision, but if they make that hard decision, I will support her right to make it. And I will hold her hand if she needs me to, and stand in front of her to protect her. My personal beliefs do not have a place in her decision.
Finally, let me make my third point. I don’t have a uterus. I know, that comes as a shock to some, but frankly, who am I to claim I can possibly understand the issues surrounding women’s health and what it’s like to be pregnant? It drives me crazy that so many men seem to feel they have the right to dictate policy on women’s health. Even today, a new bill was introduced to make abortion equivalent to felony murder in Texas. The politician who introduced the bill made a statement that it is time for women to take responsibility for their sexual behavior. My counter question, then, is when will men take responsibility for their role? Maybe it’s because I’m a scientist that I understand this, but I can guarantee that for every woman that is pregnant, there was a man involved. If abortion is outlawed, where is the counter law making it criminal negligence for a man to walk away from the pregnancy, refusal to pay to raise the child, and abandonment in helping to raise it? If women are to be held accountable, why not men? Our society is too one-sided in this. Maybe, just maybe, if men took responsibility for getting women pregnant, maybe then they’ll earn the right to a voice in the debate. But, frankly, even then I would support pro-choice.