The Culture of Being Pro-Choice
In a time of such polarizing views and treacherous political climate, certain hot button issues have arisen once again to divide people in a time when unity and respect is necessary for our co-existence. Few topics are as controversial as that of abortion, whether or not a woman has the right over her own body to terminate a pregnancy. Although this issue has always been present, the presidency and Republican dominated government in the United States has reignited the force of this argument.
The choice to identify as pro-choice is often misperceived to be taken only by women who have had abortions themselves or would have abortions. In reality, people who identify as pro-choice come from many different backgrounds with many different opinions of what being pro-choice means to them. The most basic definition is that of “advocating for legalized abortion”, as stated in the Oxford dictionary. Believing in a woman’s agency over her own body does not necessarily entail agreeing with abortion. It is less a matter of whether one supports abortion, but of if they believe a women should have the right to make decisions concerning her own body. As an example, one may agree that every woman has the right to safe and legal abortion, but would never consider that as an option for themselves as they do not personally agree with it. This conveys the intricacies concerning this very polarizing issue, and that no one opinion is correct.
Due to the many strong opinions and biases surrounding this issue, misconceptions have been perpetrated from either side. One of the most pressing and damaging misperceptions about being pro-choice is that you agree with killing an unborn infant. In fact this concern is not a reality, as the “U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 66 percent of legal abortions occur within the first eight weeks of gestation, and 92 percent are performed within the first 13 weeks” (Planned Parenthood). At this point, a woman would not have even started her first trimester, and it is generally accepted in the medical world that a fetus does not start feeling pain until the third trimester.
It is also misperceived that very few women have abortions, and that it is a small population who these laws would affect. Yet it is estimated “[o]ne in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime” (NHS). While the decision to be pro-choice may not personally affect a person, that decision most definitely affects many others. It can have as profound an effect of being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, or as a simpler effect of simply knowing this agency over one’s own body is unavailable.
While concern for an unborn life is touching, in this view it is easy to disregard the lives of women who are forced to carry these unwanted pregnancies. A woman may wish to terminate a pregnancy for a number of reasons, yet it is usually stereotyped as simply being lazy or child hating. Many women chose to terminate their pregnancies due to financial issues - if one is unable to support themselves, they cannot possibly be expected to support a child. A large amount of later abortions are due to life threatening health risks for the mother or child. Another reason is that the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. Possibly she may simply be unable to raise a child, or does not wish to take on this great responsibility. There are many reasons for terminating a pregnancy and each of these reasons are valid in their own respect as they represent a woman’s right to make decisions concerning her own body.
It is easy for us to brush this issue aside, especially if it does not affect us, but the reality is that the deterioration of access to abortion and women’s health care centers is a horrifying omen for what is to come. As abortion is further restricted, it sends a message that the American government does not support a woman’s agency over her own body. It shows that they believe we are incapable of making these decisions ourselves, and if we disagree our opinion is wrong. Every person is entitled to their own opinion, but it is a breach of basic respect and human dignity to restrict another’s right simply because of one’s own beliefs.
We cannot take the recent restrictions and proposals lightly. It is not just an offense to women, but to all people as the government sets a precedent that they have control over our bodies. We cannot sit idly by as our autonomy as an individual and our freedoms are taken away, as this affects not just a small minority, but all of us. Simply put, being pro-choice does not mean we support abortions, but that we support a lack of interference concerning our own bodily choices.