Choices

I was sad to read in the Chronicle yesterday that the Supreme Court chose to back abortion protestors in the ongoing battle over access to abortion clinics. The National Organization for Women came up with a novel idea in 1986–using civil clauses of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and the Hobbs act to argue that individuals who protested outside abortion clinics were participating in acts of extortion. Which, in a way, they were. They were using extensive knowledge of clinic staff and patients to an end–trying to humiliate women into not getting abortions. However, the Supreme Court argued that the protestors did not illegally obtain property from clinic clients, and therefore were not in violation of the Hobbs act.

This is understandable. The Supreme Court is supposed to interpret and defend our laws, not make up exceptions to the rule and then defend them. It is the job of Congress to write new laws governing new legal situations, and Congress did, in 1994, with the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

The AFL-CIO, among others, argued that prosecuting abortion protestors under RICO could potentially hinder their freedom to picket and act as a labor union on behalf of clinic workers, since pickets to change public policy, agitate for better working conditions, and humiliate women who need abortions all operate along similar lines.

So here’s the thing. I am a big fan of the first amendment. If you feel strongly about abortion one way or the other, and most Americans do, you are free to express your views. You are free to write letters to the editor. You are free to talk with other people about your feelings. As I am doing right now. I do not think that the first amendment rights of abortion protestors should be violated. If they want to wave pictures of fetuses around, by all means, carry on. It’s an important part of our social discourse.

But I do not think it’s acceptable to collude in denying women the right to an abortion. I do not think it is acceptable to threaten the lives, businesses, and social wellbeing of doctors, nurses, and other clinic staff. In some parts of the country, abortion protestors have engaged in concerted campaigns–not only finding and picketing the homes of those who work for abortion clinics, but pressuring local businesses to deny service to them. Sending threatening letters to them. It troubles me deeply that more people are not up in arms about this issue, because it is important.

I don’t see the childfree picketing fertility clinics. I don’t see pro-choicers dragging pregnant Christian women into abortion clinics. I see a movement coming from one sector of American society, aimed at another, and I think it’s wrong.

I will defend to my death the right to eject an unwanted parasite from my body. I will support the rights of other women in this country to do the same. But I will also support women who exercise their right to choose not to abort, to have the baby. Because this is what the right to choice is about. I will not be part of forcing any woman to have a child she doesn’t want, and I will not be part of forcing any woman to have an abortion she doesn’t want. This is about a personal choice and ultimately, which way a woman chooses is not important to me. What is important is that she is protected and supported in her choice, even if I may not personally agree with it.

It offends me to the core that meddlesome assholes feel the need to dictate the terms of other people’s lives. To get an abortion is to make a heartbreaking and difficult decision for most women. Why must you make it worse? I don’t see pro-choicers standing outside maternity wards waving pictures of angry babies saying “you had a choice!” On the contrary, I know many pro-choice women with children whom they love deeply, and I know many pro-choice women who had abortions earlier in their lives which were very painful, who now have children.

It seems to me like the pro-choice movement is what it is because it is offering a choice. It’s a movement which supports the decision to have children, and the decision to terminate pregnancies. The “pro-life” movement, on the other hand, does not support choice, autonomy over women’s bodies, or personal freedom. The “pro-life” movement is a bunch of patriarchal assholes masquerading behind inflammatory and nonsensical rhetoric.

What if your mother was pro-choice, someone asked me the other day. For the record, the last time I talked to her (which was over two years ago), she is. She made the unfortunate choice to have a child for particularly stupid reasons, and paid the price for eleven years until I went to live with my father permanently. My mother is a stupid cunt, and I eagerly await the day that she dies so that I don’t have to live in fear of her insanity anymore. Luckily, given the history of medical problems in her family, I don’t have long to wait*. But let’s say she had made the choice to abort me when she had the chance. This whole conversation would be kind of a moot issue, wouldn’t it, since I wouldn’t be here. I can’t say I would really care if my mother had aborted me, because I probably wouldn’t be in a state to get pissed about it. I do not value human life terribly much, and I don’t value mine much more, beyond taking basic and logical safety precautions. Depending on your feelings about souls and that sort of thing, I might have been born into a better life. Or a worse one. Does it really matter? Members of the collection of cells which has chosen to work together for a few years being my body have been other things before, and will be again. I doubt they really care either. The crux of the matter is that at some point my mother made a choice to keep the zygote, rather than getting rid of it. I doubt the zygote cared. I doubt God cared. The matured form of the zygote today is in a state of indifference about the matter, and I suspect that the collection of cells that could have been scraped from my mother’s uterus all those years ago probably would have been in a state of indifference too. Oh well, they might have said, maybe next time. Hey, is this a hazmat bin? Cool. What’s over there?

As for my step-mother of sorts, I don’t know whether or not she is pro choice. She’s in an odd position, in that because of dating my father she kind of inherited a child, albeit an adult one who is no longer dependent on the household. So she didn’t really have a choice at all, much like millions of American women who are essentially denied the right to abortion through stealthy legal maneuvers and assholes who hang out around abortion clinics because they have nothing better to do. Think about that, kids.

*To all of you that have mothers that don’t suck, or had mothers who didn’t suck and then died, I apologize. I would gladly trade places with you. I’m sure your mothers are all very cool–I’ve met some of them and fallen deeply in love with them. However, the fact of the matter is that bad parents are a reality, and this sucks immensely for their victims…er children. I don’t have a problem with mothers as an institution, or pregnancy, just my particular mother and her particular pregnancy. Luckily, karma is a bitch.

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