It’s still the 22nd of January in the US as I write this, which makes it the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, and thus the 5th annual Blog for Choice Day.
Choice here is not just about having the choice to terminate an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy. It is also about having the choice to continue a pregnancy when others would rather that you did not (a situation that many disabled women in particular find themselves in). It is also about having the choice to raise or relinquish the child once it has been born.
Nobody else should make that choice on behalf of a pregnant woman. Only she knows her whole life situation intimately enough to decide whether she has the internal and external resources to (a) go through gestation, (b) give birth and (c) mother the child. This isn’t to say that nobody else has any right to express their opinion on the matter – of course they do (particularly the man who provided half the genetic material). But in the end, all anybody else can do is advise and seek to persuade. Only the woman with the pregnant body can decide what she is going to do.
I trust women to make informed, responsible choices about the size of their families and the spacing of their pregnancies. Do you?
Addendum: Jill at Feministe adds the (in retrospect) obvious rider here – trusting women to make their own choice does not mean assuming that every choice about a pregnancy is necessarily going to be a perfect, beyond criticism, choice.
For me, though, “Trust Women” rings a little bit differently — because, quite frankly, I don’t trust women to always make the right decision or the best decision any more than I trust men to. At the end of the day, human beings do foolish things all the time — we make bad choices, we lie, we cheat, we mess up, we hurt other people, we make mistakes. We do things we regret. We regret not doing things. It’s part of being human.
So, no, I don’t trust women to always make the right choice or the best choice. And one consequence of that is that I sure as hell don’t trust any other woman (or man) to make the best decision for me about my body.
We all make mistakes. Sometimes pregnant women will make a mistake and come to regret the choice that they made. But it’s guaranteed that giving the decision making power about pregnancy to anybody else but the pregnant woman is a violation of personal sovereignty that will wound her far more deeply than hypothetical future regrets.