Today marks the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision ruling that the right to privacy under the 14th Amendment is “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.” In the decades since, legislative attacks on this right have whittled away at a woman’s right to corporal autonomy. Like so many other government actions, these attacks have disproportionately impacted lower-class women (think: Hyde Amendment). In honor of Dr. George Tiller, a clinic physician who was murdered last June, NARAL Pro Choice America asks bloggers to answer the following question:
I interpret “trust women” to simply mean that no one – not the government, not anti-choicers, not your religion – has the right to dictate what you do with your body. I grew up in a liberal household, and even with a relatively strong Catholic family, I always learned that no higher authority should be able to dictate what goes on in your body. When I was in high school, I came across this thought experiment that completely shifted my consciousness and rendered me a staunch pro-choice advocate:
Anti-abortion activists protect a fetus above the rights of the mother. But what if that fetus is female (not to mention gay, or disabled, etc.)? In this case, the fetus has more rights in the womb than it will EVER have once it is born.
My right to live was more important when I was in the womb than it is now if I were to become pregnant. Anti-choicers staunchly defend a fetus’s personhood, but when that fetus becomes a woman, suddenly she is just a vessel for reproduction. This hypocrisy set me on a life-long course towards legally protecting a woman’s right to choose and to protect the civil liberties of all citizens.
In order for Roe v. Wade to work effectively, however, every woman needs to have access to accurate information. So included in my devotion to choice is also my support of transparent and comprehensive sex-ed programs, the protection of abortion clinics, and progressive sexual advice sites, like Scarleteen. Upholding Roe v. Wade also means advocating for abortion rights in the current health care debate, and refusing to allow politicians to throw women under the bus for the sake of their corporate affiliations or re-election campaigns. I don’t want to live in a society where the autonomy of 52% of the population is subordinated to the will of religious zealots or corrupt politicians.
I trust women not because I am a woman, but because every citizen should have the moral agency to make personal decisions.