Friday, January 22, 2010

Trust Women*

I've written on this before, but one of the things that bothers me most about anti-choice rhetoric is that it's now couched in "concern" for women, but denigrates their choices, intellect and integrity above all else. The Archbishop of Canterbury's patronising - and erroneous - assessment that women don't take life seriously by having abortions was a perfect example of this. Of course, I argued that in fact, abortions indicate that we take child-rearing extremely seriously, because the responsibility of raising a life is above many others (I refuse to say it's the most important thing anyone does: it's extremely important. But so is being a heart surgeon, a teacher, a firefighter, a paramedic - all these things that save lives and instruct our children).

This distrust is present in all the laws requiring ultrasounds before abortions, require waiting periods, require the doctor to read you a script reminding you that this is a human life, and so on. All these things tell you that you haven't thought about this; it's like discarding a pair of tights with a hole in it. Many women agonise over the decision; many women do not. But the idea that we don't consider it properly and think about what's the best thing all round, and we are not trusted, is pernicious and everywhere - particularly in the Supreme Court these days. It's insulting, it's discrimination - and it's utterly wrong. I support women who make the hard choice and have the baby; I support women who make the hard choice to not have the baby. Because it's your choice: and I have no right to distrust that it's the right choice for you.

Speaking of which: I recommend this entire post about tv shows covering abortions last night. But I had to highlight this passage from Private Practice, of all things, showing a gynaecologist being pretty impressive:

Maya: What about you, what do you believe?

Addison: I believe that until a fetus can survive on its own outside of the mother's body that it is not a life. I believe that life begins at birth.

Maya: So you think that my mom was wrong before and now she's right because she wants me to do this?

Addison: I think that your mother and I think differently. I can't help you with this decision. I can and will give you an abortion and I can offer you other options and see you through this pregnancy but I can't help you decide…As your doctor I know this is hard and this is an unimaginable grown up decision but you did a grown up thing and now you are in a grown up predicament and it doesn't matter what I believe or what your mother believes, it matters what you believe.

Maya: But my mom…

Addison: Until the 24th week of pregnancy what a woman does with her own body is her own business. It's the law. And a lot of fine women fought a long time to give you the right to do what you think is best. It's your body. Your choice.

* Today is the annual Blog for Choice day. This year's theme is one particularly close to my heart. In honour of the sterling service he did caring for women of all ages seeking his help, we remember Dr. Tiller and reflect on his urging to "trust women." I really like Jos' post on access and providers - surely more will come during the day. For my previous posts on this, see 2009 here and 2008 here. Note that in 2009, Obama campaigned that he trusted women. Thank goodness that seems to still be the case, at least with regard to the Global Gag rule. In a bad year for choice, that's something for which to be grateful.

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