Saturday, January 29, 2005

Safe, Legal, and Never

Hilary Rodham Clinton gave a speech on the on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade about a week ago outlining her views on abortion. TheSlate has a great article on the importance of Ms. Clinton's speech and its significance with respect to re-shaping the democratic position on abortion rights.

While I've always understood the passion of pro-life people, I've never been swayed by their arguments. Whether legal or not, some women, at some point in their lives, may for a variety of circumstances need to terminate a pregnancy. They need access to clean, sterile environments for this procedure. Making abortions illegal would drive such procedures back into back alleys and storage lockers, with inept and ill-trained "doctors" killing women instead of safely ending a pregnancy.

I don't advocate for abortion; no credible pro-choice person does. That is, no pro-choice person goes around flippantly declaring that "abortions are great!" and "hey, everyone should have one if given a chance!" Far from it. Pro-choice people, as much as anyone else, don't want widespread abortions. We want it there as an option, preferably at the end of the list of all kinds of other options given to a woman facing unplanned pregnancy.

I can't abide by pro-life advocates who show gruesome photos of aborted fetuses accompanied by chants of "that's a baby." That's not the point. An appropriate counter-picture -- which I remember seeing about a decade ago but not recently -- would be a dark alley with a discarded wire hanger with the caption "We won't go back." (If you want to gross people out in the same shock-jock fashion as the fetus picture, the pro-choice poster should possibly include a picture of a woman, spread-eagled and dead, with copious amounts of blood around her.)

The biggest unpersuasive argument I've seen from pro-lifers are those signs that say "I regret my abortion." Frankly, big whoop. Who cares that you made a mistake with your choice? I regret many of my life choices all the time. Does that mean I should start a drive to criminalize everything I've regretted in my past? If I decided that going to law school was a colossal mistake, should I start a drive to shut down all law schools? If I decided that I attended the wrong college, should I start a national drive to make attending that school illegal? Since when does your regret of your legal choice provide a basis for national policy criminalizing the act?

Finally, the religious right can't have it both ways. Not only do they abhor the option of abortion, they also abhor contraception. They resist efforts to distribute condoms in high schools as if kids won't have sex if they aren't given condoms. They disdain methods like the "morning after" pill which prevents conceptions in the event of unprotected sex. So basically the right sends the message that they want to prevent people from taking steps to prevent the conception of a fetus, and then won't let them terminate the pregnancy when it results. Strangely enough, though, no one seems to have a problem with Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs being legal, covered by insurance, and heck, advertised during prime time television.

I continue to support a woman's right to choose, as well as a full panoply of contraception options for women, and for men. Everyone should have the full gamut of choices in this regard.


p.p. said...

Bravo. I totally agree with what you wrote. I am 100% pro-choice; with the operative word being "choice," not "abortion."

Matthew said...

Why are you not 'pro-abortion'?

p.p. said...

For clarification, re-read Dennis' third paragraph. Pro-choice people are conveniently labeled as advocates of only abortion. The fundamental issue is "choice," and whether "that" choice should be limited. I do not believe it should.