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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Reproductive Rights – What Does This Mean?

Whitney M. Duck

One of the most highly charged issues facing both Democrats and Republicans is a woman's Reproductive Rights. What does this mean? It is not simply abortion on demand. Often this issue encompasses birth control and how women control their ability to conceive and bear children. The issue is huge and highly complicated with a lot of gray area. Some paint this issue as black and white, you either are pro or anti abortion. I say that there is much more to it!

In a time very long ago, I was a teenage mother. I gave birth to my first child at the tender age of 17. The world was never the same. In 1977, I could not attend school with my peers and was not allowed to attend the Prom. I was schooled in the high school nurses office and asked to come late to school and leave early. I was considered a bad example to my fellow classmates. The world has changed greatly in the last 31 years! Young women now can finish their school year with their peers and the stigma attached to young mother has weaned a bit. But this issue and the right to decide when to bear children is still back in the past century!

Whether or not to bear a child is personal and complex. I am surprised that the political party that wants less government intervention, the Republican Party, wants to make this issue one of the front line reasons to vote for candidates. Who in their right mind would want the government to tell or have a law that says women must bear children at all costs? The idea that every pregnancy is welcome, healthy, and conceived in love is political folly on the part of the Pro-Life group.

The media feeds this idea with happy parents and prefect children flowing across the TV and print media. Sadly this is not always the case. Tragedy does occur. Nature is not prefect and babies often do not come to full term. Some women and young women can not carry children to term. Families, at times do not wish to carry the stigma of teenage birth in their family tree. The reasons for not having a child are so varied and so life changing that placing the government in this decision seems outrageous!

The dispensing of birth control has also become a hot button. Across this great land, there are pharmacies that will not fill prescriptions for birth control. These pharmacists often have a political agenda. Why then fill a prescription for Viagra? Is Viagra too much of a money maker to say no to? Let us weigh the two – erection vs. preventing pregnancy – why is this a choice?

For young women, the 1973 Supreme Court Decision Roe vs. Wade may be so far in the past for them to fully understand the impact if it was overturned.. This landmark decision is worth reading to anyone concerned about losing Reproductive Rights. The Opinion written by Justice Blackmun is long and throws most of the responsibility of allowing abortion into the lap of state government and not federal government. I believe this opinion by the high court to be the most over read and misunderstood opinion that the Supreme Court has put forth in my memory.

I do not want the federal government to tell my daughter, or any other women, that she must have a child, no matter how the conception happened or how sick she is, or how badly nature has malformed the fetus. I have given birth to a very sick baby and in the course of the birth, almost lost my own life. But it was I, myself, who made the decision to carry through with the pregnancy! Not the doctors, spouse, or family advise. It was my choice and not the governmental law makers or those of the clergy.

In this election year, will cooler heads prevail? Reproductive Rights are important to women of all ages. Making new law to stop abortions will not stop the teenager from conceiving or mother nature from the terrible misfires that can occur during conception. Other factors like national health care and sex education might be better venues then trying to legislate morality. It is something to think about.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The understanding you bring to this issue is one of the reasons why men need to be very careful when they attempt to make bold proclamations about a woman's right to choose.

While the decision to have a child has an impact on the father, that impact, and the life changing alterations that occur, pale in comparison with the effects of that decision on the mother. We men cannot comprehend the full effect, and so, we need to stay as far out of it as possible.

Too often those on the right forget that the right to choose includes the choice that you made, Whit, to face a tough pregnancy and to have a baby. It seems to me that, rather than focusing on denying mothers their fundamental right to choose, those who oppose abortions would do well to use whatever means at their disposal to ease the mother's mind into choosing to make the decision that is best for everyone.

I look forward to reading more from you!