I believe that it is a woman's right to choose what happens to her body. There is nothing you can say that would change my mind, and I'm proud of that.
Let me explain. One of the things I often encounter is others misunderstanding what it means to be pro-choice. Pro-choice doesn't mean that I'm "for" abortion, or that I think everyone should get abortions.
"Being pro-choice means that I support a woman's right to CHOOSE what happens."
It means that I think a woman should be allowed to terminate a pregnancy that will put her health, or her child's, at risk. It means that I don't think a woman should be forced to carry a baby to term if that baby is the product of rape or incest. It means that I think a woman should be able to get an abortion if she wants one, no matter the reason.
Pregnancy is a nine-month commitment that changes your body, costs money, and can affect how you perform at work and in school. Why should a woman be forced to make such a life-altering commitment if she isn't financially, emotionally, or physically capable of doing so?
There are three big arguments against abortion that I hear repeatedly from the pro-life side of the debate. I disagree with all three of them.
"Life begins at conception; therefore, abortion is murder."
This is the most common argument I hear from those who are pro-life. There are variations of this — a fetus can feel pain at four weeks, the fetus is "alive" at the point of conception.
Life doesn't begin at conception. When the sperm fertilizes the egg, the resulting embryo is a living cell. So is every other cell in your body. The embryo isn't a living organism, so it isn't alive in the way that you are. Think about it — a person is considered dead once their heart stops beating. When an egg is fertilized by sperm, there is no heart. How, then, is abortion murder?
I often see this argument paired with a statement like, "Maybe we can make an exception for people who've been raped." If you truly believe that life begins at conception, there shouldn't be exceptions to that. You can't argue that abortion is murder because the fetus is alive and can feel pain but make an exception.
The life-at-conception argument is just too flawed for me to buy into.
"Don't abort the baby; someone might adopt it."
It's a sweet thought until you realize how impractical it is.
Adoption is argued to be a better solution to abortion, but adoption isn't always the easier choice. It's a tough process for women who might not be able to afford the cost of an abortion or might have found out they were pregnant too far into the pregnancy.
Placing a child up for adoption can be both physically and emotionally hard on a woman. Her body will undergo many changes during the nine months of pregnancy — changes that are most likely unwanted. She will have to explain to people that the baby will be adopted, and people will want to know why. After the birth, she may experience a period of grief or have uncomfortable conversations with the adoptive parents about her role in the child's life. Though every situation is different, and this won't be what every woman goes through, adoption can be a very difficult process to go through.
In addition to the toll it can take on the mother, many children don't get adopted. There are over 400,000 children in the foster care system in the United States. Many of them age out of the system without having families. By pushing a woman to choose adoption over abortion, you might be taking a home away from a seven-year-old who needs it.
If a woman doesn't want to have a baby and thinks that abortion is the right choice for her, it is. If a woman decides that she would like to have the child and let someone adopt it, that's up to her. That's the point of being pro-choice — the choice is up to her and her alone.
"Women should take responsibility for their mistakes."
Personally, this argument gets me more riled up than the others. How can you call a baby a mistake, while simultaneously demanding its mother keep it?
Despite what those on the pro-life side would have you believe, abortion often isn't used as a form of contraception. Sure, there are some women who end up pregnant unintentionally and either don't want or can't afford to raise a child, but there are other reasons women seek an abortion.
If the pregnancy is a product of rape or incest, abortion should be an option. No one should have to raise a child they didn't want, especially one that was conceived by such a traumatic act on the victim. When the victim is a child, the pregnancy will not only cause them emotional distress but can seriously harm their bodies.
Some women also choose to get abortions if the child has a genetic disorder or is sick and won't survive. In other cases, if she suffers a miscarriage or the birth of the child would put her health at great risk, a woman may need a late-term abortion. Sometimes an abortion is the last thing a mother wants, but because of serious health problems, it becomes necessary.
"Women should have bodily autonomy, and that's that."
There are many reasons a woman might choose to have an abortion, or might need one, but it should be her right to choose. Only she can make that decision for herself. Being pro-choice doesn't mean you advocate for abortion, or you would have one yourself, but that you respect it as an option.
Let every woman decide for herself.