While waiting for an elevator in a New York department store recently, I overheard two women talking about another woman who is pro-choice. One woman voiced the opinion that pro-choice women are probably frustrated ideologues who don’t have families and children. She went on to describe the stereotype of a loud woman participating in demonstrations and protests because what she really needs is validation for decisions made in her own past.
I’m not one to interrupt a stranger’s conversation, but I felt a little stunned and then a little guilty for being silent. I also felt disheartened by what seems to be a complete lack of understanding and compassion. Had I interrupted, I might have said I have children and family. I care about people being treated fairly. I do not need external validation of my decisions. I would have explained that my own pro-choice position is not based on my personal choices or my past. It’s based simply on freedom of choice: the right to control my own body. To see the recent onslaught of state regulations directed at interfering with that right is truly frightening.
With so many people out of work and desperate for access to healthcare the Republicans seem to have driven off the rails to focus on eliminating access to abortion providers. This quiet, localized effort is insidious and dangerous. It’s no more than pandering to special interest groups to keep campaigns funded rather than protecting our rights as American women.
I recently read the ruling in the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R. v. Morgentaler. In 1988 Canada’s abortion law was ruled unconstitutional. The Chief Justice found that "forcing a woman, by threat of criminal sanction, to carry a fetus to term unless she meets certain criteria unrelated to her own priorities and aspirations is a profound interference with a woman's body and thus a violation of security of the person." That statement is a reminder of what is truly at stake in our own country.
It’s more than being pro-choice. The same idea carries over into every aspect of individual freedom. It is a profound interference to restrict a woman's right to make personal medical decisions. It is a profound interference to limit rights based on sexuality. It is a profound interference to require another person to follow your own religious views.
Whether gay or straight, regardless of race or religion, regardless of gender, freedom is self-determined. Our government is for all the people. Just as I would never force my own ideology on another, I don’t want anyone to force their ideology on me. Being pro-choice means I stand for freedom.