Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why Choice Still Matters

When I started this blog I had hoped that I would have the opportunity to include additional voices. Since I started graduate school and have made fabulous new feminist friends I opened an invitation to some of them to post at my blog. Here is Elizabeth's contribution to Blogging for Choice Day. You can expect to see mine later tonight or tomorrow.

Why Choice Still Matters

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which in itself is a great cause for celebration! Often we hear about abortion discussion coming from the Christian right; however, we often as progressives fail to continue the discussion on our end. We dismiss the evangelical arguments but then fail to let our arguments be known. We assume that because it is legal, it doesn’t need to be talked about anymore.

So, on this great blogging for choice day, it is important to look at the reasons to celebrate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. While this landmark case did make abortion legal in the United States, it is not simply a day to celebrate the option of abortion only. We have to look at what access to abortion means in a larger social context. For women in the U.S. the main rhetoric for making this procedure available is for the choice to have the procedure if wanted/ needed. The point is that a woman should have control over her body and have the means and services available to her to make that choice. It is not about being pro-abortion but about being pro-choice. It is the choice that matters, which is why this case was so important.

While pro-choice advocates celebrate this day, it is important to look at choice for women not only in the U.S. but also around the world. If we look to reproductive justice, which includes access to not only abortion but all reproductive and health services for all women, regardless of race, class, sexual preference, etc, we can gain a better understanding of how the U.S. compares with other parts of the world. With this understanding we can look at examples around the world where women are not given control or choice over their body. In China, women are encouraged to have abortions after they already have one child and fined if they have two or more children. Additionally, the social services available to these women when they have one child are taken away when they have any further children. Likewise, transnational migrant workers from the Philippines in Taiwan face losing their job and being sent back to their home country if they continue with a pregnancy. Again, abortion is encouraged through the system, which again does not give women control over their bodies or a choice of any sort.

When a system traps women into a particular decision, whether to have an abortion or not, there is a problem because individual women do not have control over what happens to their own bodies. So, while we can celebrate that women in the U.S. have access to abortion, we also need to look at the comprehensive idea of reproductive justice and make sure it is available to all women. Additionally, we need to look at what it means in a global context so that we as progressives, do not lose sight of an issue even when it is not our hot button issue.

Happy 35th Anniversary!

Cross Posted at Faithfully Liberal

No comments: