Today is blogging for choice day. You all know where I stand and so I won’t rehash it. I would instead like to talk about Bear Creek Ledger’s post today about how “outrageous” it is that Tennesseans pay for undocumented folks’ births. Rachel is all over this from a medical perspective, but I would like to discuss this from a “pro-life” perspective.
How can you hold a position that a fetus is a person under the law, separate from its mother, and deserving of rights even when those rights come in conflict with the rights of the mother and then complain that it costs you money to bring some of these “pre-born” humans into the world? What did you think would happen? The “pre-born” don’t have jobs. Where else is that money supposed to come from, if it isn’t forthcoming from the parents?
The “pro-life” argument has always been that a mother’s problems are her own and that it’s wrong for her to take her troubles out on an innocent life–that’s why it’s wrong for her to have an abortion. And yet, if you deny medical care to pregnant women, women who are pregnant, I remind you, with “pre-born” people, how are you not punishing that “pre-born” person for the faults of its mother?
Or do those “pre-born” people not count for as much because they’re going to be born brown and Spanish speaking?
As Amanda over at Pandagon reminds us, it’s not enough to talk about reproductive rights in terms of just being able to get an abortion if you need one. It’s also about being able to safely have a baby in a hospital, if you need to. It’s about having unbridled access to birth control and the knowledge to use it. It’s about being able to say “no” and having that “no” respected. It’s about the enthusiastic ‘yes.’ It’s about access to healthcare and truthful information about our own bodies. It’s about making sure that all women, regardless of income, have access to the same medical procedures.
In other words, it’s about having our bodily autonomy recognized, respected, and supported, regardless of what choices we make. The closer we come to those goals, the better off things are for women. And for everyone else.
I guess that’s the thing that still stuns me. Women who have control of their own bodies are better off, and when we are better off, so is everyone else. We don’t die in childbirth nearly as frequently as we did a century ago. Almost all of the children we have live through their first five years, unlike a century ago when it was common for a woman to have given birth six, eight, ten times and only have two or three children make it to adulthood. Our ability to regulate, with great certainty, when we get pregnant has resulted in us spending much of the twentieth-century playing “Let’s have recreational sex!” which has surely improved the lives of our partners as well.
We’re all better off when women have the recognized right to decide what happens to our own bodies.
And yet, it remains so damn controversial.