Why I Will Always Be Pro-Choice

Why I Will Always Be Pro-Choice

I will be pro-choice until the only thing that exists is the option for control over my own damn body.

My least favorite time of the year is the spring when protestors flock the Oval and begin to essentially scream about how women belong at home, abortion is murder, and that all college kids are sinners for one reason or another. I could write an entire novel about these statements, but today, I want to talk about why I will always be pro-choice.

My favorite abortion debate story is from Todd Akin. Most of the time, the arguments that are shown from those who are pro-life infuriate me, bring me to tears, or even make me wonder how these people came into power. In 2011, Todd Akin was featured on a Fox News segment about abortion (and don't even get me started on Fox News). When asked if Akin would allow abortion in the situation of rape, he responded with "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." That is, in fact, a direct quote from the senator from Missouri. And that's where I think a large issue lies - men who claim to be pro-life are so poorly educated that they have no choice. So rather than ranting and raving about how passionate I am about the woman's right to choose, I'm going to educate you on the abortion debate.

First of all, pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. Many people who are pro-choice are actually against abortion, but the modern abortion debate isn't about abortion at all. It's about whether or not a woman has control over her own body. I am pro-choice and anti-abortion - personally, I would have a really hard time making that kind of decision. But I would be pissed beyond WORDS if it wasn't an option for me, because what if I was in a situation where I couldn't give that child everything he or she deserved? Why birth a child into a situation where they will suffer in one way or another?

Secondly, many pro-lifers will argue that a fetus is a life, regardless of whether or not a heartbeat is established. However, scientifically speaking, a fetus cannot survive without the woman, and the fetus' right to life does not trump the woman's right to choose what happens in her own body. The big moral question is what matters more, the choice of the woman or the right to life of the child?

Thirdly, the most infamous argument is that any woman who chooses to have sex should deal with the consequences. Personally, I find this argument particularly frustrating and stupid. The sex education in public schools is appalling - 37 states have laws where sex ed must include abstinence only education, and 26 of which require abstinence-only contraception is taught. Research has shown that abstinence-only strategies actually deter the use of contraceptives in teenagers, which INCREASES their chance of pregnancy. Allowing access to contraceptives like birth control and condoms will decrease pregnancy in all age groups (particularly in poor and uneducated women), and the need for abortions will decrease. Furthermore, just because a woman consents to have sex does not mean she consents to have a child, and on another topic, consent is always necessary for every action. Including pregnancy.

The most important thing to know about the pro-choice argument is that outlawing abortions will not stop abortions - it will increase the number of unsafe abortions; The WHO estimates that 47,000 women and girls die each year from unsafe abortions around the world, and another 5 million suffer disabilities as a result. Can I just say, holy shit? People who are pro-life care more about the life of an unborn child (who often doesn't even have an established heartbeat yet), than we do for the woman and girls who surround us. We are allowing women to risk killing or disabling themselves than allowing them control of their own bodies, the rates of abortion are comparable, meaning that outlawing abortion doesn't do much to deter women from seeking abortions out. If abortion continues to be illegal, women will continue to seek out abortions and endure many more consequences, rather than the safety of a legal abortion.

Also, many women who seek abortions are poor women who can't afford to have a child. Since many Republicans are pro-life, I'm going to make the leap that most pro-lifers are also against welfare. Allowing abortion to be more accessible will decrease the number of families on welfare, which is a win for Republicans!

Many people who argue the pro-life stance tell me that there's no way I could understand their point of view since their point of view comes from a religious standpoint. This past fall, I began my journey into entering the Catholic church. I understand where your religion could dictate your feelings on this, but I think it's important to recognize that the women in your life have just as much right to control their life as you have to control yours. (Just throwing that little tidbit out there).

I will always be pro-choice, but being pro-choice is more than just believing that all women should have access to abortions and to have control over their bodies. Being pro-choice also means that women should have access to sex education and to the birth control which works best for their body (I have the Nexaplanon implant, and it has changed my life). It means that women around the world should have the right to decide when, where and how they want to have children. I will always be pro-choice because it is one small piece of being a feminist, and one small piece of creating equality for women. I will always be pro-choice because bringing a child into the world where it will be born already at a disadvantage is unfair and cruel, but the fact that children can even be born at a disadvantage is a massive, but completely different but still incredibly relevant issue with society.

I will be pro-choice until the only thing that exists is the option for control over my own damn body.

Cover Image Credit: Oregon Live

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Why The Walk Out Was Necessary For The Gun Control Conversation

The kids are our future and they're making sure we know it.

If you haven't heard about the March 14th Walk Out protest that took place in high schools all across the country, you may be living under a rock. The protest was posted all over social media and shared hundreds of times by passionate students in high schools from coast to coast. It was truly a movement and, like all movements before it, caused a lot of conversation and controversy amongst political parties, parents and really anyone who heard about it.

The Walk Out was organized by the organizers of the Women's March to push for gun reform and to honor students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school; the school where a month before, 17 students and faculty members were killed in cold blood by a shooter. Since that event the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas spoke on national television in front of their peers and superiors alike, begging for stricter gun laws and citing the deaths of their friends and teachers as the reason why. Those senseless deaths deserved not to be in vain. On March 14th, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas walked out of their classes for 17 minutes - in honor of the 17 lives lost that day and to shout their message of stricter gun control loud and clear. These students were not the only ones who did so; thanks to social media, the Walk Out was shared on all platforms and students across the country united with their peers to honor the victims and ask that something be done to prevent more senseless acts of violence in our nation's schools. Despite being something these students felt strongly about, their act was the topic of much controversy in America; the topic of gun control is an incredibly divisive and partisan issue, and these students made sure it was clear what side they were on.

For one teacher in Oak Hall, Virginia, this Walk Out was not the answer. Many people were against the idea, claiming that students were only using it as an excuse to get out of class or to draw attention to themselves rather than the issue it was protesting. This sixth-grade teacher's counter to the movement quickly went viral, prompting more conversation and argument.

At first glance, the message is obvious and innocuous; it's blatantly clear that many of the perpetrators of school shootings in the past have cited mental illness or bullying as the reason they felt compelled to do what they did. The purpose behind the Walk Up Not Out campaign is to fix that, to spread kindness in our schools and hopefully derail a plan of mass murder by inviting someone to sit at your lunch table. It's not a revolutionary idea.

The problem with this campaign becomes clearer the longer you think about it. It is, in essence, victim shaming. By telling students that "just be[ing] nice" is all they need to do, the message of these killings being the students' fault that people feel the need to shoot up schools comes out pretty clearly. Even if this was not the intention of this counter-campaign, that is what is has become.

As a person who has grown up with and around mental illness, and has been in a high school where I saw and have firsthand experience with kids not being so nice to each other, I have never felt the need to grab a gun and take it with me to exact revenge on my peers. I know plenty of people that I went to high school with and connected with later who were bullied, by definition, who ate lunch alone, who never had partners for projects... None of these people ever thought that murdering their classmates was an answer to their problems. While it does seem like a cop out when these cases come to light, the underlying factor of extreme mental illness can not be smiled away. A person who feels the need to kill people is not going to lose that need by eating lunch with other students.

This epidemic of school shootings needs to come to an end. All of the students who walked out of their classrooms in protest of senseless violence, all of the students who are scared to go to school because what if they're next?, and all of the parents who now have to worry that maybe their child won't come home from somewhere they're supposed to be safe know this. Stricter gun control is a huge issue, one that will not be solved easily, but the conversation has to start somewhere. These students are our future, they will be voting in the next election, they will be voting at their state and local levels; these students have something to say and a whole lot of fire behind it.

Walk Up Not Out may very well have been started solely to undermine these students, but it is not a lost cause. These students are walking up to each other every day, talking about their futures and what they can do to ensure they see them. These students are walking up to the voting podiums, making choices to make sure they have the representation that will most showcase their ideals. These students are walking out of their classes to make sure their voices are heard, but they are walking up every day, to make their voices mean something.

Regardless of if you are for or against gun control, it is hard to argue that these students are not making a difference. They are starting the conversation and fighting for their own peace of mind. The kids are our future, and they're making sure we know it.

Cover Image Credit: https://cdn.saleminteractivemedia.com/associated-press/data/photos/2018/73/90e03728-35e2-45f3-b174-08cdca720976.jpg

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The Gun Violence Epidemic In The U.S. Is Out Of Control And It Is Time We Make A Change

Many other countries have much stricter gun control and it is time the U.S. took notice.

It is a sad truth that gun violence in America has become a norm. While the issue is brought up in politics, regulations and laws tend to focus on mental health, arming others with guns, and pretty much anything but actual gun control. Nevertheless, according to The Guardian, there have been 1,624 mass shootings in 1,870 days in the U.S. This means about nine out of every ten days on average there has been a mass shooting.

A mass shooting is most often defined as an event when four or more people are shot during a single incident. In 2017 alone, there were 345 mass shootings, and as of February 21, there have been 34 in 2018. In two months, 34 mass shootings have occurred and the U.S. is no closer to stopping that number from rising. To compare, many other countries have much stricter gun control and it is time the U.S. took notice.

In Britain on August 20, 1987, the Hungerford gun massacre occurred when a lone gunman killed 16 people and then himself. The shooter, Michael Ryan, had a handgun and two semi-automatic rifles. After Hungerford, Britain cracked down and banned the right to own semi-automatic firearms, pump action weapons, and registration became mandatory. Nine years later, another mass shooting occurred with handguns. This led to the eventual banning of all cartridge ammunition handguns.

In Japan, there is a 1958 law on the possession of swords and firearms. It states no one shall possess a firearm or firearms except a shotgun, but still with high regulation. Prospective shotgun owners must attend and pass classes, writing and practical exams, psychological assessments, and extensive background checks.

In Australia, after a mass shooting resulting in 35 deaths by one gunman, gun control regulations swept the political scene. Part of the gun reform included a national gun buyback policy for all weapons that did not comply with the new licensing and registration system (automatic and semi-automatic rifles), which led to the buyback and melting down of more than 650,000 firearms in Australia.

In the countries that have suffered tragic gun violence and implemented gun control regulations, gun violence has shrunk considerably, especially in comparison to the U.S. It is estimated that Americans own 48% of the estimated 650 million civilian-owned guns worldwide. This news should be eye-opening, but it is common knowledge that of the high income and highly-developed nations, the U.S. having some of the worst rates of gun violence and gun-ownership is not surprising.

In the wake of the Parkland, FL Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in which tragically 17 people were shot and killed by an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle, the students involved have brought about the #NeverAgain movement. The movement advocated for tighter gun regulations to prevent these kinds of tragic mass shootings and gun violence. This movement and many others like it that came before are vital to promoting the needed change in the U.S.
Cover Image Credit: flickr

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