22 January 2008

My Mother Gave Me a Hard-to-Spell and Androgynous Name, But Other Than That, She Did Okay

Today is the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It's NARAL's Blog for Choice Day, which is apparently a yearly thing. This year the question is "Why is it important to vote pro-choice," but I'll take Feministing's rewording:

Why do you vote pro-choice?

Because that's how my mom raised me.

It's nearly impossible to separate personal beliefs and morals from indoctrination. Sure, people break from their parents' beliefs all the time. But at some point, on some issues, parents' influence is complete, and we're brainwashed.

Of course, I'm grateful that my mom is a feminist, that she raised me to be one, too, but I would believe that, wouldn't I, brainwashed bleeding-heart liberal that I am.

There was a contentious extended-family dinner-table discussion once a few years ago in which my sister and I turned out to be the biggest pacifists of the family, the most liberal. I think that pleased my mom, that we'd gone farther than she could, in some ways.

When I was maybe ten or eleven, my mom was driving my sister and me to brunch, and she pointed out protesters at a Planned Parenthood clinic, and explained.

But I'm not entirely brainwashed. I make some decisions on my own.

When I was about fourteen I decided the issue was viability. I don't remember if this was a school paper, or just my own musing. Before a fetus is viable, I figured, it was a part of the mother's body, and she could do what she pleased. But once it could survive outside, it was its own life. I'm not sure that's still my reason. I'm not sure I have a reason. Evidence, that sort of thing.

But the evidence piles up. A handy compilation is here. The issues zoom out from personal repercussions to huge social issues.

All of those issues are powerful and true. But I vote pro-choice because, in the end, it comes down to choice.

I believe that a woman should have the choice to decide what happens to her body, and her life.

So much anti-choice rhetoric is knotted up with disturbingly misogynist paternalism about rape and sex ed, too. It's hardly something you can separate. Someone else knows best. But of course, it is, because it's different.

(The rampant misinformation that is common from entirely mainstream anti-choice people and organizations, like the idea that the morning-after pill induces abortion, also doesn't do that side any favors in my book. It's also too often coming from religiously-dictated morals, which have, um, zero place in laws that govern my body and what I do with it. I refuse any legal reasoning that ends up with "That's what the bible says.")

My two deal-breaker political issues are abortion rights and evolution. I think it's absurd that politicians, in an ideal world the best and brightest we've got, can disbelieve evolution. As if science were a matter for faith. I can see how someone could think abortion is wrong.

But the thing is, as eleven-year-old Jaime noticed when remarking on the imbalance of "pro-choice" vs. "pro-life" as labels, it's not about whether abortion is wrong. Because abortion can be wrong. For some people. But for other people it's not.

Do I need better reasons? Only if I'm trying to convince anyone. But I just need to pull my voting lever, and talk honestly to my children when I have them.

I vote pro-choice because I believe, with every bit of my mind and heart, in a woman's right to chose.


Tina-cious.com said...

I was born 4 days before that decision came down.

I always say that I dodged THAT bullet. :)

...and agreed... it's our right.

Freeman said...

Well said.