This was actually hard to write.
It was a close place. I took . . . up [the letter I’d written to Miss Watson], and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: “All right then, I’ll go to hell”—and tore it up. It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming.
I don’t think that I’ve ever been in Huck’s (from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain) situation, where I’ve had to stand up against an entire society for what I believe in. Against a majority, certainly, but not to the extent of Huck’s.
However, living in Texas as a relatively liberal person has provided me with several conservative viewpoints and attitudes that I don’t agree with.
(Texas also has great food and genuine hospitality, don’t get me wrong.)
Among those issues, abortion.
I believe that abortion is a woman’s individual right that should not be limited by governmental or religious authority, and especially not a sixty-year old male (cough, Todd Akin) who claims that “legitimate rape victims have ways to try to shut that whole thing down and thus can’t easily become pregnant.” I’ll list some of the reasons as to why I believe so, and please, I’m not here to preach or to persuade anyone to change their beliefs.
To begin with, the US Supreme Court has already declared abortion to be a “fundamental right” guaranteed by the US Constitution. To quote, “The Constitution gives a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy. This right of privacy… is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”
- Access to legal, professionally-performed abortions reduces maternal injury and death caused by unsafe, illegal abortions that women with unwanted pregnancies otherwise would resort to.
- Abortions give pregnant women the option to choose not to bring fetuses with profound abnormalities to full term. If parents are unable to care for severely disabled children, either due to lack of resources or support, it would be cruel to bring them to term.
- A University of California at San Francisco study found that women who were turned away from abortion clinics (because they had passed the gestational limit imposed by the clinic) were three times more likely to be below the poverty level two years later than women who were able to obtain abortions. Essentially, reproductive choice protects women from financial disadvantage.
- This point is possibly the most controversial–when does life begin? Embryos and fetuses are not independent, self-determining beings, and abortion is solely the termination of a pregnancy, not a baby. Yes, I am against baby-killing. No, I am not against cell-killing. A person’s age is calculated from birth date, right? Fetuses are not counted in the U.S. Census.
What I find hypocritical now, is the conservative attitude towards welfare and health care. Republicans oppose universal health care legislation based on the belief these programs promote apathy and negligence, favor across-the-board tax cuts (for individuals of all income levels and for large corporations) and favor tighter controls and less funding for social and welfare programs. Consider if a child whose parents were financially or emotionally-unstable, or if he/she were disabled, were brought to term. Wouldn’t they be the ones who need health care, less taxes (or rather, more taxes on corporates and wealthy individuals) and welfare programs the most? Conservatives argue that people need to accept responsibility for their actions (I suppose, in this case, sex), but I’d say taking care of and supporting our fellow humans is all of society’s responsibility, not just the parents’.
People will say that I look at abortion this way because I’m an atheist. (Psst. The United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations are all officially pro-choice.) I’ll just say I tend to look at the big picture.
But unlike Huck, I’ve preferred to keep my own beliefs to myself. Yes, I voted for Wendy Davis (at least, I managed to persuade my parents to), but I was not prepared to be called “Abortion Barbie” and other unflattering names, or be threatened by extreme conservatives.
Then again, this is a private issue. A woman’s body should not be governed by any politician, any man, any woman and especially not me.
So what can I do to assert my belief?
Absolutely nothing. (Ok, minus standing up for the woman’s decisions, whatever it may be.)
Because what do I know about your body?
What do you know about my body?
And what do we know about the woman’s body?
What do we know about ANYONE’s body?