It’s really just a matter of personal choice

by Staff

It’s not about life, death, birth or what some might call murder. It’s about having control over one’s own body. It’s about women being able to make decisions that affect their futures and the entire course of their lives.

How easy it is to get sidetracked by all of the auxiliary issues. But the well-worn statement “a woman’s right to choose” says it best. Abortion is about a woman having power over her body and making choices that will affect her future. Because only women get pregnant, abortion has been called a woman’s issue. Unfortunately, men can spread their progeny all over the place and walk away, while the woman is left to deal with the consequences.

If men could become pregnant, how different it would be! There would be no argument about the right to choose a safe and legal procedure. Abortion would really be a social issue, the way it should be now. Men don’t have to get directly involved because they are not the ones getting pregnant. It is the woman’s “problem.”

The lack of male birth control, other than condoms (which, in my opinion, are highly ineffective against pregnancy), shows that it is assumed to be a woman’s responsibility to take care of the birth control. But if birth-control methods fail, why is it not the woman’s responsibility and choice to terminate an unwanted pregnancy? Is this not a double standard?

Why are there laws to control abortion but not other forms of birth control? It would be as easy to develop male birth control, but it is convenient for the male-dominated industry to keep providing drugs and devices for women. It takes the pressure off men to do anything about contraception, while women are expected to do it all.

I am not advocating the use of abortion as first-rank birth control. Far from it. There are many better ways to prevent a pregnancy before it occurs. But when these methods fail, or there is not adequate access to them, abortion needs to be available as an option.

We could cut down the number of abortions radically if we made birth control accessible and affordable to all women.

Teen-age women especially need to be targeted. Instead of denying our daughters’ sexuality, we should be educating them in ways of safe sex, birth control and the option of saying no. Denying their sexuality does nothing but compound the problem.

I had two friends who were sisters, both with teen-age daughters. They were very religious and did not believe in teen-agers having sex or providing them with information about birth control. Their daughters were having sex, and instead of confronting the issue, the mothers chose to ignore it. Both girls became pregnant, and because of their beliefs, were not allowed abortions. The girls are no longer in school and are full-time, teen-age mothers. Their mothers were educated women. What’s wrong with this picture?

In Scandinavian countries, teen-agers have free access to sex education and birth control. Teen-agers having sex is common. Teen-age pregnancy is rare, as are abortions. Get the connection?

Personally, I would not choose abortion for myself. I do not think killing is right, and to me, at some undetermined point in time, that mass that is zygote and then fetus starts to become a person. I do not know when this magic time is, and I don’t fully understand when the cells become “a life.” I would not be able to live with the decision to terminate my own pregnancy. But this is MY choice.

Just as I choose not to have animals slaughtered for my consumption, I choose not to have an abortion. I have no right to impose my standards on those of a different mind. I have never stopped anyone from eating meat. I do not picket restaurants that serve dead animals. I do not carry posters of slaughtered animals and yell at the diners that they are encouraging murder to continue. I do not torture young women into believing they will go to hell for the sin of eating flesh, as the anti-choice folk love to do in the context of abortion.

Just as I don’t tell them not to have abortions. I even have friends who eat flesh (perish the thought). And I forgive them. And I forgive my friends who choose abortion.

I once had to drive a friend to get an abortion. She was fine, but I nearly lost it. That child would now be 26 years old. And my friend’s life would have been ruined. She went on to finish school and go to college. She was 15. I have never forgotten the way I felt. But it was not my place to tell her she had to become a mother at that age.

Again, the religious right comes into play here. Armed with scare tactics galore, they (religious advocates) attack high schools en masse trying to prevent young women from having abortions. They picket clinics, bomb offices and are a general nuisance. Frankly, I will go with Freud’s reaction-formation theory here. These people are taking a deep wish that they are unable to fulfill and rallying against those who have the courage to do that very thing. Perhaps these women didn’t want to become baby-making machines. Maybe they are envious of those who choose freedom over a lifetime of caretaking.

It is a well-worn argument, but one that needs to be brought up every so often. We do not need a generation of young, poor, uneducated women bringing up unwanted children. If those opposed to abortion are really so emphatic about it, let’s require them to adopt all the babies born to mothers who would have opted for abortion. I wonder how they’d feel about that?

The freedom we are supposed to have in this country is unfairly influenced by those of strong religious beliefs. To me, the answer is so simple. Against abortion? Then don’t have one!

Hobi Reader is a psychology senior and writes a weekly column for The Daily Aztec. Her e-mail address is hobir@aol.com.