Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What Does "Choice" Mean? Blogging for Choice Day

click to enlargeSome people think that pro choice means pro abortion. To me, choice means, well, having choices. I don't see abortion as the only choice, either. Those choices include access to education about sexual health, birth control, and sexually transmitted diseases, and access to reliable birth control. Since modern medicine has not provided us with any form of birth control that is 100% foolproof (other than long term sterilization), then yes, I think abortion should be one of the choices available to women. I don't think that people should use abortion as a preferred method of birth control (personally, I don't know of anyone that does, but people always seem sure that there are women who do this) - I would hope that all women had the information and access to birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Even then, nothing is foolproof and they all have less than great side effcts.

In an ideal world, everyone would have access to and use birth control perfectly and there would never be an unwanted pregnancy.

However, we do not live in a perfect world. We live in a world where many children hear little to nothing about "the facts of life" or "the birds and the bees" from their parents, because their parents heard NOTHING about it from their parents, and grew up too ashamed and embarassed to talk about sex. We live in a world where for the past 7 years, the Bush administration has pushed and promoted abstinence only sexual education, which makes it possible for teenagers to leave high school not knowing how to protect themselves against pregnancy or STDs.

We live in a world where there are politicians, well known politicians (ahem, Fuckabee), who belong to the Right to Life Committee, which believes that hormonal birth control is a form of abortion, and therefore should be banned.

We live in a world where things don't always work the way they are supposed to. There are always going to be situations where birth control is used correctly and it fails. As it is, women who use the pill and other forms of hormonal birth control such as the ring, the patch, the injection, the hormonal IUD and the implant have to be very careful about other medications and supplements interfereing with their birth control. One mistake and you could get pregnant. I had asked my doctor about a couple of methods of birth control, but the side effects were daunting: weight gain (more than just 3 to 5 pounds), irregular bleeding, heavier periods (who the hell wants that?), mood swings, depression, heavier cramping, increasing the chance of ovarian cysts (which I have a history of), exacerbating migraines (I get those too), painful insertion of IUD if you haven't had a child, and the risk of perforating the uterus. So...no easy choices. And since I'm in my early 30's, I can't find a doctor who will do a tubal ligation for me.

This is something I've been wrestling with for the past few months. There are no easy answers. In the meantime, my boyfriend and I have been using condoms and spermicide. Well, a few weeks ago, something happened that had never happened before. The condom slid off. Neither of us noticed until afterwards. When we found it panic gripped my stomach - what were the chances? I didn't even know at that point that the morning after pill was available over the counter in the county I live in. I was really scared. And yes, the condom was put on correctly and yes, it was the same box of the same brand we'd been using. Shit happens.

At 9 am the next morning I called my gynecologist's office. The doctor called me back within 10 minutes and told me go call pharmacies until I found one that kept Plan B in stock. She asked when I'd had sex, and said that at this point in time, the Plan B would be 90% effective. Thank goodness my regular pharmacy did, so I didn't have to call several pharmacies until I found one that didn't have a moral objection to it. I ran over to get it, showed my ID to prove that I was over 18, came home, and took the first pill, setting my cell phone to beep when it was time for me to take the second pill. I had some mild cramping during the day, but Aleve took care of it. I got my period a few days later and thanked God that I was able to take control and choose to not to risk becoming pregnant.

If I hadn't gotten my period within 5 days, I would have had to take a pregnancy test. And it if was positive, I would not have hesitated to make arrangements for a medical abortion.

Some people might think that makes me selfish. I think it's selfish to put a woman in a situation where she has no option but to have a child out of a sense of obligation, even though she doesn't want that child, and doesn't want to raise that child. I do believe that every child should be a wanted child, and no woman should be forced into motherhood. My biological father didn't want me, and that is not something that any child should have to deal with. I know I don't want kids, so I will do everything in my power to make sure I don't get pregnant. If that fails, I'll do everything I can to make sure I don't have an unwanted child. Besides, the foster care system is far from perfect...once these unwanted children are born, where are they all going to go? You just have to turn on the evening news to see that no, not all parents are magically "ready" when their babies are born.

Women, even young women in high school, are having sex. Parents can turn a blind eye and try to ignore this, but it's happening. I'd much rather educate kids and make sure they know how to protect their health and prevent unwanted pregnancy than leave it all to chance and continue to see girls drop out and have their options in life limited.

Adult women, even unmarried ones, are having sex. And not all married couples want to have babies! The women that do want to have babies want to control when they have a baby - after they get their master's degree, after they get to a certain point in their careers, etc. We need to fight to keep that freedom - the freedom to choose whether or not we want to be mothers, and if we do, when.

Check out others who blogged for choice today.


Michelle L. said...

I wrote my Blog for Choice today, too! I am so amazed reading these and seeing the myriad diferent reasons that people support choice. I am happy to add my voice to the chorus.

Mel said...

Excellent post. I agree that pro-choice is not necessarily pro-abortion (even though I support that as well). I believe that it is a woman's choice to decide what is morally right for her and not the government. Bravo.

Feminist Gal said...

great post. and as for "Some people might think that makes me selfish." they aren't the ones forced to carry a pregnancy to term. People are quick to pass judgements and offer their moral compass but frankly, it's your life and you gotta do what's best for yourself and your situation. Thankfully, we have the right to do that :)

(and yes, i just may steal your fuckabee icon!) :)

Rachel said...

Great post! I'm having to deal with the bible-throwers down here in the South...those who want to tell me that "abortion is murder":


These are the same people who'd like nothing better than to strip me of my choices in the future.

When I was 19, I had a condom break as well. Back then, with no plan "B" available, I just waited things out. I got lucky, but I knew plenty of girls who weren't so lucky.

Keep looking for doctors in your area who are more progressive. A friend of mine who is 27 and has no children recently went to my doctor and had the "essure" procedure done. There ARE physicians out there who will listen and take YOUR wishes into consideration.

Margaret said...

What's selfish is forcing a woman to undergo pregnancy to serve one's own moral ideas.