The Importance of Choice

Posted on May 21, 2012

Huffington Post, May 21, 2012 by Hayley Rose Horzepa

After being raped by two men when I was just fifteen years old, I understand the value of choice. Maybe that’s because I never had one. The trauma I experienced reminds me of the abortion ban Mississippi law makers are pushing through their state legislature. Had I become pregnant as a result of those rapes, there is no doubt in my mind that I would’ve aborted the fetus.

Pro-lifers often define rape and incest as the two exceptions to the proposed anti-abortion rule. Who gives them the right to put stipulations on other people’s decisions? Who gives them the right to take away my choice? Maybe one has to have the option of choice taken away before he or she can fully understand it’s value.

Mississippi lawmakers are close to successfully banning abortion from their state. Only one abortion clinic remains and lawmakers are looking forward to putting this last remaining clinic out of business as well. How did they block it? A new bill has stacked the deck against medical doctors by adding extra clauses, not typically required for the typical licensure needed to perform abortion procedures.

On the subject one proud state representative, Bubba Carpenter, said,

They’re like, ‘Well, the poor pitiful women that can’t afford to go out of state are just going to start doing them at home with a coat hanger.’ That’s what we’ve heard over and over and over. But hey, you have to have moral values. You have to start somewhere, and that’s what we’ve decided to do. This became law and the governor signed it, and I think for one time, we were first in the nation in the state of Mississippi.

It is ironic to me, how the moral values of “pro-lifers,” defenders of fetus, do not often extend past their concern for the fetus and to the life of the mother. How could people who love unborn children so much have such disdain for those who carry them? The ignorance and lighthearted attitudes demonstrated by some pro-lifers, specifically those with political power like State Representative Carpenter is not only scary but telling of the gender inequality and disdain for 50% of the world’s population. Making light of the infections, severe internal disfigurement and deaths resulting from “coat hanger” abortions is not something to joke about.

For modern women, the coat hanger is a powerful image symbolizing the vast strides this country has made both in legislation for women’s rights and women’s heath since the era of dangerous “coat hanger” abortions. Retired gynecologist Waldo L. Fielding, M.D., writes of the various implements aside from coat hangers used in home abortions in a New York Times article: “darning needles, crochet hooks, cut-glass salt shakers, soda bottles, sometimes intact, sometimes with the top broken off.” Regardless of your stance on abortion, would you want a woman you cared about to subject herself to this?

“Anti-choice” is a more appropriate label for the opponents of Roe v. Wade who call themselves “pro-lifers.” When questioned about the importance of the life of the mother and the woman’s right to choose, anti-choicers will counter you with the importance of the life of the unborn fetus. Anyone who would go to the lengths that some women have gone to to perform home abortions, when there were no other options, must have a pretty good reason to do so. Not that the reason is anybody’s business. What’s most obnoxious about pro-lifer’s stance is the flippancy with which they describe the attitudes of women who seek or have gone through abortions.

No one sets out on a sexual relationship, one-night stand, adventure or whatever with the intention of it resulting in an abortion. Abortions are expensive, dangerous and emotionally trying. I know lots of women who still feel guilty over choosing to abort a pregnancy over a decade later. I also know that the alternatives would’ve been equally difficult had they birthed the child. Not having enough money to raise a child or enough strength to let the child go to an adoptive family are decisions, that in their own right, are just as difficult as the choice to terminate a pregnancy.

People are infallible. Until a time where humanity is able to make decisions with perfect precision, people will need abortions. This is a necessity as is war, until a unified concept of world peace is adopted. I’m anti-war and pro-choice. A lot of people feel the exact opposite of me. They will never change my mind and I will never change theirs. So in the meantime, let’s just try to extend a little more compassion and a little less judgement in all directions. That’s my solution. What do you think?