Thursday, January 22, 2009

It is Choice Day

Thanks to the good folks at Bitch Ph.D. and NARAL for this important reminder. Today is the 36th anniversary of one of the most important human rights of any woman--to decide when and if to give birth. It is something we should treasure, first, because so many people in this country cannot bring themselves to trust women to make their own choices on childbirth, and also on account that we assume the permanence of certain rights that we have in a free society.

The right to an abortion is special and different from other rights in one major way. It was created by the Supreme Court in its Roe v. Wade decision, and even though the right to an abortion is every bit a part of the spirit and tradition of individual choice in our Bill of Rights it can be easily taken away by any future court decision. The government can temporarily ignore the Fourth Amendment guarantee on search and seizure, even violate it blatantly, but the Fourth Amendment will always be there. Roe v. Wade was created by the court's growing acceptance of the right to privacy, which itself was a product of a court-invented right to contraceptives in Griswold v. Connecticut. Consequently, because this right can be rescinded on the whim of five like-minded justices, such as the fool who administered the oath of office yesterday, this is not something we should take lightly. Without the maintenance of stare decisis, the right to choice can disappear, and it most certainly would in many of our states that have already passed resolutions pledging to ban it if the Supreme Court ever overturns Roe (putting the issue back to the states).

Also, while there will be those who believe that a fetus is equivalent to a live, breathing human being, you will never see the anti-abortion crowd denounce their date of births as a contrived feminist conspiracy to make them forget their first nine months of "life." We know instinctively there is a difference. And even if one was still morally opposed to abortion, like with gay marriage, it can be easily avoided by choosing not to have one. That is the whole point of being pro-choice, leaving this momentous decision to the woman, not the state or any of its nannies from the ranks of our pulpits. So, on this date in 1973, we won a great victory for everyone (yes, men too, when you consider we are half the act in pregnancies). Here is to hoping we are celebrating it 36 years from now.

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