Monday, January 22, 2007

Blogging for Choice Day

Welcome to Blog for Choice Day. I'm not talking about just any choice here, of course. This isn't about whether you can legally have your wisdom teeth out if they're going to cause problems or if you just don't want to deal with that potential.
I sometimes read or hear people say they think women shouldn't have access to abortions because we should "deal with the consequences" of our actions by having a baby. An awful lot of medical treatments involve dealing with the consequences of our (or others') actions, yet you never hear about rich men being denied angiograms or bypass surgery because they didn't exercise enough or ate too much. Medicine is often about making bad choices or bad luck have a less negative impact on our lives. I think that's a great thing all around.
I also think that having a baby shouldn't be a punishment.
It's strange, isn't it, that "choice" has become about one thing, the ability for a woman to have one of several medical procedures legally.
I grew up very middle class, white, and in the US. To be totally honest, even before 1972, a woman in my social situation where I grew up could have gotten a safe abortion if she'd sought one. She could have traveled to where the procedure was legal, or she could have had it at the local hospital, where it would have been labeled a "D&C" and nothing further would have been said. I know several women who had "D&Cs" in the 60s and early 70s, and who were relieved to not have to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.
And to be honest, were the US to outlaw abortion today, and I to get pregnant tomorrow, I would have access to an abortion. Things might be stricter medically, but I'd be able to travel and have a safe medical procedure.
Women who aren't safely middle class have and have always had far fewer options. Today, I live in an area where getting an abortion legally means travelling at least 2-3 hours, getting some "counselling" (and, legally, I can't get that over the phone; I have to get it in person), waiting 24 hours. Then, assuming I were among the large majority of women seeking an early termination, I'd be allowed to buy and take some pills. (How does your state rate in access to abortions? Find out here.)
As a middle class woman, I could afford to take a couple days off, even in the middle of a semester, drive to one of the cities several hours away where abortion services are available (because even those pills aren't available in my mid-sized city), stay at a decent and safe hotel for a couple of days, and, if there were a complication, afford further health care.
I'm not at all convinced that the most basic legal access to the medical procedures to terminate a pregnancy are assured, but I'm hopeful.
However, I don't think that basic legal access is sufficient. I think we need to work harder to make sure that all women have access to reproductive choice, including terminating a pregnancy. We need to eliminate TRAP laws, and treat terminating a pregnancy like the medical procedure it is. (I don't want to minimize medical procedures; by all means, someone should be informed about the risks of any medical procedure, be it a medical abortion or wisdom tooth extraction. But medical procedures are safer when they're performed legally, by well-trained practitioners in well-staffed facilities.)
One way to work to make sure women in the US have access to reproductive choice is to lobby your elected representatives or to support pro-choice candidates for election. Contact your US Senator. Your US Representative. You can find contact information for your local government folks through the Library of Congress site, here.
When you're contacting your representatives, remember that choice isn't only about women in the US, but also about the ways the US funds aid to developing nations, especially medical aid, and especially access to reproductive choice.
Another way to work to help women in the US have access to reproductive choice is to help pay for care indirectly. The National Network of Abortion Funds can help you find local resources to help fund care for women who don't have access for financial reasons. That's especially important for women whose medical care is paid for by the federal government, as with people serving in the armed forces or, yes, the Peace Corps.
Or you can contact Planned Parenthood to find out how to work for broader reproductive choices.
Need more information about Blog for Choice day? Go here. The official topic of the day is "why you are pro-choice," but I've gone a bit off topic. My post will earn an official F. /sigh
[I have doubts that blogging for whatever makes a real difference in the world. I don't think we're going to change anyone's mind, really. But, I do know that giving money or volunteering for organizations that work for choice does make a difference, often one woman at a time. I'll be sending off another donation to Planned Parenthood.]

1 comment:

  1. Amen, sister friend. Keep abortion safe, legal, and accessible for all women (not just us lucky duck academics who can afford to travel if necessary).