Happy 37th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade!
This year, the focus of Blog For Choice Day is simply "Trust Women" in honor of Dr. George Tiller. I have so much to say that I'm not even sure where to start.
After Dr. Tiller's murder, I spoke to my mom about late-term abortions. My mom conceded that she was somewhat confused about them. I recognize that the underlying assumption that people have about these procedures is that these women simply "waited too long" before deciding to have an abortion - women who suddenly had a change of heart, and ran down to Kansas to nip it in the bud, on a whim.
Doesn't sound very trusting of women, does it? That mentality assumes that women don't know anything - they don't know what they're doing, they don't understand the enormity of this decision, and they shouldn't be trusted to make these decisions for themselves. This is the same mentality that allows waiting laws to be put in place (Here's the link to a map of waiting periods around the nation) and the mentality that would consider mandating that women see a sonogram before obtaining an abortion. These laws are not very trusting of women, are they. At the very least, they assume that for women to make good choices, they need the intervention of the (overwhelmingly male) government.
I had a related conversation today with my cousin. She's a registered nurse in the maternity ward of a nearby hospital. We started the chat by admitting that our views probably clashed on choice - but it turned out that we were almost on the same page. We both agreed that if abortion wasn't legal, it wouldn't change the number of abortions - it would just make them less safe. And we both agreed that there are times that women need safe and legal abortions. But she sees women and teens come in for their 3rd or 4th abortion, and felt very strongly that it shouldn't be used as birth control. I argued that there are other forces at work that put women into those positions. At the end of our conversation, I timidly informed her that she was, in fact, pro-choice, according to my definition.
But it got me thinking - the reason my cousin considers herself pro-life is because she doesn't think all women make good decisions concerning it. I tried to say that there's no way anyone can know what any woman goes through because deciding to get an abortion, and there are probably very few women that take the issue lightly, and don't think much of it. And that assuming all women are airheads doesn't help any of these causes. That's what Trust Women is all about! If we trusted that all women knew what they were doing, and could be trusted to make decisions concerning their bodies and their personal physical and mental health, nobody would be pro-life. Right? Nobody would want to intervene in that personal, life-changing choice - because it wouldn't be questioned.
All these conversations remind me of this amazing site, which includes memoirs by women who went to Kansas for late-term abortions at Dr. Tiller's clinic. None of the decisions were taken lightly. Some of the women discovered that their child would have a horrible condition if they carried it to term, and the child's life would be confined to a few painful (expensive) months in a hospital room. I heard a story of a set of twins with a rare blood condition, and the mother had a selective abortion in order to give one baby the chance of survival. Some women were faced with their own health risks if they didn't abort. Some women were faced with financial hurdles - they couldn't raise the money in time to have an abortion in their state, or they couldn't take off work, or couldn't pay for the necessary transportation to get them to the clinic until late in the pregnancy. It seemed like most of the women in need of late-term abortion had already been slammed with the worst situations and circumstances, and the system had put them into these dire positions. It pains me to think that people would say that these women shouldn't be trusted to make these decisions - but that's exactly what's going on.
Trusting women is a big deal, and a big commitment, but it's more important to our cause than almost anything else. People think my generation doesn't understand the importance of Roe V. Wade because I never lived in a time without it, and I don't fully understand what it would mean not to be there - and that may be true, to an extent. But Dr. Tiller's death, and Kansas stories opened my eyes to the importance of Roe V. Wade, and all the other work that we need to do.