Posted by: Jennifer | January 22, 2007

it’s all about choice

Blog for Choice Day

Thirty-four years ago today, Roe v. Wade became law in the United States of America. Since that day, all women in that country, regardless of age, economic status, religion, or marital status, have had the right to choose whether or not they would have an abortion. It’s a choice that has been fought for bitterly, with one side claiming the right to freedom and the other side claiming the right to defend unborn babies from death.

The website Bush v. Choice has declared today to be Blog for Choice Day and they are encouraging bloggers to talk about why they support the right to have abortions. It’s a hard question to answer, and to tell the truth I had to put some thought into it for a few days because I wasn’t totally sure of what I would say.

You see, I grew up in a generation where there was no alternative. Roe v. Wade was decided long before I was a twinkle in my parents’ eyes. Here in Canada, there is actually no law on the books regarding abortion at all, either outlawing it or allowing it. It’s simply part of life. It had been illegal for a long time, but then laws allowing abortion under extreme circumstances (such as rape or danger to the mother) were passed in 1969. These guidelines were passed in the same bill that legalized homosexuality and contraception in Canada, and also provided one of the most famous quotes in Canadian politics: Pierre Trudeau remarking that “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.” In 1988, when I was a young girl concerned with Barbie dolls and Brownies, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that to deny a woman the right to an abortion was unconstitutional and essentially a breach of the woman’s right to security of the person, which is guaranteed under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In it’s decision, the Court said:

“The right to liberty… guarantees a degree of personal autonomy over important decisions intimately affecting his or her private life. … The decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision and in a free and democratic society, the conscience of the individual must be paramount to that of the state.”

All of this was decided before I hit puberty, before I even knew what it was to become pregnant or carry a child. I probably still thought that babies came from the Cabbage Patch. When the time finally came to learn about the sex and its various consequences, abortion was simply an option that was discussed in the classroom as a medical procedure. It was something that could be done if pregnancy occurred, but probably wouldn’t be done since we were all encouraged to remain celibate until we were in our thirties and married.

As a result, the idea of not having the choice to terminate a pregnancy is as foreign to me as the idea of not being able to choose whether I want green beans for dinner. It’s something that I suppose I have always taken for granted, that right to be able to make my own destiny and follow my own path.

So why do I believe that a woman should have the right to choose? I guess my answer is simpler than I thought it was going to be. It’s because we have the cognizant ability to make choices for ourselves.

A democratic society is built upon the idea that the citizens of that particular part of the world would have the right to make their own choices, however unfavourable or unpleasant they may be, based solely on their own moral compass and beliefs. We have the right to elect our own leaders. We have the right to practice our own religions. We have the right to wear horrible clothing and say horrible things. We have the right to read literature and romance novels and watch movies and reality TV and play computer games and use the Internet, all without anyone dictating the content of those books and shows and sites. We have the right to play sports, or to spend our time in the library. We have the right to get married or to stay single. We have the right to choose our sexual and life partners. We have the right to decide whether we want to have a dog or a cat. In a world full of choices and options, a world that allows us to make decisions based on our own desires and our own opinions, a world with essentially no limits, why would we dictate whether or not a woman should be forced to carry a child to term? Why should we dictate who should have kids and who should not? To take that option away would be like saying that a woman is too dense to make that decision on her own. It would be like saying that, as a woman, I am capable of choosing my toothpaste and my government leaders and my partner and my occupation and my cats, but I am just not bright enough to decide whether I want to end a pregnancy or not.

Does that mean that I think that women everywhere should be having abortions? No. To be honest, I’m actually against the idea of abortions. I don’t think it’s something that I would consider as an option, no matter what the circumstances may be that are leading me to think about it. Too often I see and hear women using abortions as a form of birth control. To the victims of the world, the ones who were raped or violated, or who are in danger because of their pregnancy, I can certainly see why the decision would be made to have an abortion. But so many woman are degrading the choices made by others. They are getting abortion after abortion after abortion, in a way senselessly killing because they were too stupid to learn how to use a condom. It is their choices that are putting a stigma on those made by other people, and I wonder sometimes if perhaps abortion should not be limited to those who need it the most.

But at the same time, I also think that’s just my opinion. And if you want to have an abortion, either because you were the victim of rape or because the condom broke, then that’s your decision. I choose not to have an abortion, and that choice means that someone else can choose to have one. To limit the choices of one you must limit the choices of all. And to limit the choices of all means to abandon the principles of a democratic society. What happens after that is simply too frightening to think about.

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