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A woman having the right to choose is something many people strongly believe and support. And women certainly do and should have a right to choose many things when it comes to the matter of reproduction. In fact, there are a whole slew of choices available to women long before legal rights even enter the equation. So unless they are a victim of sexual assault or exploitation, the following are several choices all women have a right to choose:
• They have a right to choose whether or not to have sexual relations
• They have the right to choose whether or not to use contraceptives
• They have the right to choose whether or not the risk of unwanted pregnancy is worth the risk
• They have a right to choose with whom they will share their body
• They have a right to choose not to sleep with a man with a high risk of being unsupportive
• They have a right to choose giving the child from an unwanted pregnancy to a family who would love nothing more than to care for that child
Unfortunately, the right to abort an unborn child appears to take center stage above all of the previously listed options. But the question is, why is this so-called right promoted so much higher than other reproductive issues? There is so much focus on having the right to choose abortion, the denial of so many others’ desires for rights are often gobbled up in the process. Even worse, some are even used merely as a pawn in furthering the cause. These people who have no choice include:
• Couples who desire to have a child, yet one or both are infertile
• Consensual partners who contributed to the conception of the child, yet have no right to choose to raise them
• Women pregnant due to being victims of sexual assault
• Women pregnant because they were forced into sexual slavery and trafficking
• The child who is conceived
Every one of the previously mentioned people either lack or are denied rights surrounding reproduction. And although victims of sexual assault are routinely mentioned in discussions promoting abortion, they somehow end up an afterthought behind the larger push for aborting pregnancies resulting from consensual sexual activity. If the issue is indeed about women having control over their reproduction, why are women who have the least amount of choice merely an add-on to garner support from moderates and conservatives?
We must consider how truly backwards it is to consider abortion a right, yet couples who cannot conceive are often left with a choice between remaining childless or spending thousands of dollars on non-guaranteed fertility treatments, adoptions which could fall through at the last moment or surrogates who could change their mind or extort money. Why is it so easy to dispose of a child, yet so difficult for people stricken with infertility to obtain one? Perhaps the issue at hand does not truly revolve around reproductive choices as much as an industry profiting from our societal shortcomings.
As long as the hypocrisy of many pro-choice advocates is being brought up, shall not the self-contradicting ways of many pro-lifers be as well? While there is the common observation of being more “pro-baby” than pro-life, one important oversight should be noted. How can it be that someone who professes to so fervently oppose abortion, is not equally passionate about adopting one of those children? Absentee fathers and financial instability contribute to so many decisions to abort. Therefore, people who claim to have strong family values should be more than willing to raise a child who would otherwise be aborted. After all, it would save far more lives than simply picketing outside clinics or voting for pro-baby politicians. Otherwise it would seem the movement is much more about upholding ideologies than protecting life.
With all of this stated, there is certainly common ground where both sides can unite. Pro-choice can coincide with pro-life when we actually focus on the right to choose life. We should be able to agree to make the right to have children a reality. If women should have control over their reproduction, it only stands to reason that pro-choicers have dropped the ball on making motherhood more accessible to those who cannot be mothers through natural means. It makes no sense to push for insurance to cover abortions for fertile women, yet barren women have to come out of pocket to become a mother.
Just the same, pro-lifers need to put their money where their mouth is by having the willingness to save a life through adoption versus laws and rhetoric. We should focus on praising mothers who put their children up for adoption, rather than trying to shame and legislate them from aborting. Being treated as a hero for making a wise decision, would seem more attractive than the secretive guilt of the alternative. In reality, the issue of abortion is far more about stigmas than most other factors either side brings up. And as the old saying goes, we would likely catch far more flies with honey than we ever could with vinegar.
By Corey Dorsey