ThreadingWater is chillin’ in a foreign land. Enjoy this summer rerun.
On this, the 33rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, I have pledged to blog for ‘choice.’ Recently, though, I have been having second thoughts. Not about a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, but second thoughts about the language we use in our battle for reproductive rights; specifically the word ‘choice.’
It was the publication of Linda Hirshman’s article in the American Prospect that first got me thinking about how a feminist dependence on ‘choice’ language has been used against us by our enemies, and mangled and diluted by those who claim to be our allies.
We are admonished by the anti-abortion right to ‘Choose Life’ and told that ‘It’s a Baby – Not a Choice.’ Others on the political right promote ‘choice’ schools as a method to siphon-off public funding for private education with less accountability. Even those who would cloak themselves in feminist ‘choice’ language often misunderstand what true opportunity and decision-making choices really look like, as pointed out in Ms. Hirshman’s article about women who leave the workforce in order to stay home and raise children.
‘Choice’ is right. ‘Choice’ is left. ‘Choice’ is sprinkled throughout our vocabularies as good and desirable for everything from ketchup to car insurance. The use of ‘choice’ infers that one has the freedom to choose among a number of fairly equal options.
Surely, for a pregnant woman, the options are nowhere near equal. There are only three: motherhood, adoption or pregnancy termination. Each is a life-altering path with its own health, financial and psychological components. The methodology for deciding which path to follow cannot and should not be determined, or restricted, by those who believe that – as a matter of faith – a fertilized egg or a fetus is deserving of constitutional rights equal to that of a pregnant woman.
One’s faith and spiritual belief system are powerful allies against the struggles that life hurls at us. But, faith and spirituality are uniquely personal. A woman facing a decision that is more self-preservation than a matter of ‘choice’ is entitled to receive health information from her physician, drug information from her local pharmacy and spiritual counseling from her church.
This isn’t a choice, it’s a right.