Gwynn: Pro-choice movement is part of personal freedom
- Sep. 18, 2012
- 11 Comments
A few months ago, I was spending time with my five-year-old niece, along with one of her uncles. I’m not quite sure how the conversation started, but at some point we were discussing things my niece could be when she “grows up.” Her uncle started jokingly telling her that one of the options (it might have been a lion tamer) was “not the best idea.” However, rather than let it slide, my niece turned to him, replying with indigence vividly sharp in her voice, hand on her hip, “I decide my own life!”
As my niece proudly declared herself in charge of her own fate, I grinned and high-fived her like the good feminist aunt I am. But, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of sadness along with my pride. See, when my niece says “I decide my own life,”— even though every fiber of my being wants to tell her “Yes, you’re absolutely right, of course”—I can’t nod along with 100 percent honesty.
My niece believes her rights for bodily autonomy are par for the course in what she sees as a fair world. Not having a say in her own life is a bewildering concept for her to wrap her head around. My niece believes she should have choices, and get to make those choices, whether it’s choosing her lunch or choosing her future career.
However, the notion that my niece should be powerless in her own life is not at all bewildering to an alarming number of people. In fact, the notion that people, particularly young people, and particularly young people with the capability to become pregnant, should feel powerless in their own lives is the driving factor behind an entire political movement.
This scares me. No scratch that—this terrifies me.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, 49 percent of all pregnancies are unintended, and the rate of unintended pregnancy is particularly high among 18 to 24-year-olds—the age of the typical KU student. An age group my niece will belong to when she “goes to KU or Harvard” (she hasn’t decided which yet).
There is a very real possibility that entities will attempt to take the power of “I decide my own life” away from my niece. She may be raped. She may be lied to by her doctor about her health and body. She may be told she has no right to a decision about her body, that she is not an authority on her own life, that she in fact cannot, and should not be able to say, “I decide my own life.”
I want her to be able to decide.
This is the root of the pro-choice movement. This is my niece, someday, if she happens to have an unplanned pregnancy, being able to decide her own life. This is my niece, or your niece, or sister, mother, friend, or you, me, or any of the people whose body has the capability to become pregnant, being able to say “I decide my own life.” This is about having options, and having access to those options; about deciding to end a pregnancy, or about continuing with a pregnancy and choosing adoption, or about continuing with a pregnancy and being a parent.
The pro-choice movement is not the pro-abortion movement. The pro-choice movement is the “you decide your own life” movement. Having options available to a person, and allowing a person to choose the option that is best for them, and their current and future family? That is choice.
My niece is five years old. She was born five years ago because of an unplanned pregnancy when my sister was 19 years old, younger than I am now; the age of a significant amount of students on campus. My sister, when discovering she was pregnant, looked at her options: abortion, adoption, or parenthood. She decided, for her own personal and unique circumstances, that parenthood was the best option for her. She had the means to be able to do this unlike many others, which makes her very lucky and grateful because being a parent has worked out for her. It doesn’t for everyone.
I want my niece, and all those with the capability to become pregnant, to be able to pick the best option when it comes to a decision that literally can decide the path your life takes. And I want my niece, and us all, to say, “I decide my own life.”
Gwynn is a sophomore majoring in English and women, gender, and sexuality from Olathe. Follow her on twitter @AllidoisGwynn.