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My Pro-Choice Is About More Than Abortion

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March 10, 2015

From Flickr user William Murphy "infomatique"

Last Friday, I stumbled upon an article originally published by “VICE UK.” The headline, “Being Pro-Choice Isn’t Just About Abortion,” is what drew me in. The article asserts that the pro-choice movement needs to focus on the rights of pregnant and birthing individuals, as well as reproductive rights in general.

Author Rebecca Schiller says that, “When we move beyond talking about the choice not to be pregnant (valid and important) to a choice within pregnancy (as valid, as important) the message that women should be guardians of what goes on in their uteruses seems to get lost.”

At its root definition, though, the term “pro-choice” means what Rebecca Schiller advocates for. By being pro-choice, you believe in the right for a person to make a decision on their own—whether that decision is to continue a pregnancy or what to do during a pregnancy. You believe in the freedom to choose. You believe that an individual is the sole authority on what decisions are right for their personal situation.

I confess that I’m often guilty of forgetting this. But we as a society need to work harder to remember it because a person is not free to make a choice about one thing if they are not free to make a choice about all other things, especially things directly related.

For me, being pro-choice means believing in:

  • The right for a person to have an abortion.
  • The right for a person to continue a pregnancy.
  • The right to a safe, legal and easily accessible abortion.
  • The right to a team of medical personnel (read: doctors, midwives, no medical personnel at all) that a person would like present at their birth.
  • The right to be administered medicine, or to abstain from drugs, during birth.
  • The right to give birth wherever (a hospital, at home, etc.) a person chooses.
  • The right to have a child by a means of their choosing, whether through in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, adoption, etc.

While this certainly is not an exhaustive list, you can take being pro-choice farther, even. While we view pro-choice as directly relative to pregnancy, birth and abortion, there are many factors that might affect a person’s opinion or ability to choose.

So being pro-choice could also mean believing in:

  • The right for a person to choose what religion to practice, what tenants of that religion to follow, and what religion to raise their child under.
  • The right for a person to be with and legally recognize their partner, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
  • The right to legally start a family with their partner.
  • The right for a person to choose where to live and what job to have.
  • The right for a person to choose the individuals, including friends and family members, who they interact with and who come in contact with their children.

Toward the end of the article, Rebecca Schiller summed up the pro-choice movement in three sentences: “That’s the thing about reproductive choice: it should belong to the individual and remain outside of the political to-and-fro. There should be an acceptance that, although my choice may well be different from yours, I’m the only person who can make it. Once we start interfering in, dictating to, and punishing women for their choices, choice itself becomes a sharp and dangerous political weapon.”

My pro-choice looks like freedom for all. My pro-choice believes that individuals know what is best for them and my pro-choice puts faith in that individual. My pro-choice believes that people should always have the right to make educated decisions free from coercion. My pro-choice is not just about abortion. What does your pro-choice look like?

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