Today, in honor of the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the pro-choice community is coming together for Blog for Choice Day 2013. Normally I don’t touch heated or political topics here, after some bad experiences with abusive, angry e-mails and guest book messages on my old Angelfire site (not to mention having the entire site deleted because I offended a very mentally unbalanced individual and her friends), but this was one opportunity I couldn’t let go by.
Politically, I’m a Socialist-leaning liberal (and registered Democrat) with a handful of more conservative positions. Personally, I’m very old-fashioned about many things, but my personal views are completely separate from what I feel is good public policy. I’m probably one of the most unlikely people you’ll ever meet who goes to an Orthodox shul! Most people might not expect someone who wears ankle-length skirts and short-sleeved shirts over long-sleeved shirts to be pro-choice and so left-wing!
Halachah, Jewish Law, permits abortion and places the life of the mother above the fetus. That’s not to say that indiscriminate abortion is encouraged, but when it’s a matter of pikuach nefesh, preserving a life, there’s no question that an abortion should occur. It doesn’t even have to be a physical danger. It can be psychological as well, such as a woman who doesn’t want to have a rapist’s baby. The fetus is called a rodef, an aggressor, putting the mother’s life and mental health at risk if the pregnancy continues.
In the case of multiple pregnancy, selective reduction is also permitted. Higher-order multiples put a huge strain on a woman’s body, and once you get above twins, they’re almost guaranteed to be more than a month premature and need a NICU stay. Sometimes triplets or even quads can be carried almost to full term under certain circumstances, and with a damn good perinatologist, but you can’t say that about quints and above. The more fetuses in a uterus, the quicker they run out of room, and the more strain they put on the mother. And since these higher-order multiples tend to be born so prematurely, many times not all of the babies make it. Therefore, a woman may have selective reduction so that she still has two or three fetuses with a strong chance of survival, as opposed to having a whole litter and then losing 4 out of 6 babies, and dealing with lifelong disabilities the surviving children have thanks to their extreme premature birth.
I personally, to date, have only had one sexual partner, and I’ve never had unprotected sex (though the guy never ejaculates from any sort of partnersex anyway), but I recognize that I’m in an extreme minority these days. We don’t live in a perfect world. Most people no longer marry in their late teens or early twenties, and many people have longer courtships. It’s not exactly a secret that a lot of the very young couples in the past had such quick courtships and engagements so they could live together and have sex without getting in trouble.
If you don’t marry till 25, 30, or 40, you shouldn’t be expected to sit around with all that pressure-cooking sexual energy and never do anything sexual till marriage. Sometimes birth control fails, or isn’t used. Many people live in areas where it’s hard to get access to birth control, or they’re afraid their parents will find out.
Not everyone is in a perfect, stable relationship when an unplanned pregnancy happens. Not everyone has the kind of money to financially support a child. Maybe the mother is very young and wants to graduate high school and go to college before having kids. I’d rather see someone in a tough financial situation having an abortion or using the morning-after pill than collecting a string of babydaddies and going homeless like the embarrassments on Maury.
While I’m rather saddened at how adoption has seemingly become an unpopular choice these days, I’m also glad that unwed mothers’ homes and adoption mills are a thing of the past. If a girl gets in trouble these days, she doesn’t have to risk dying of an illegal abortion, scrounge up the money to go out of the country for an abortion, be sent out of town and have her baby taken away, or be forced into an underage shotgun marriage.
Every woman has the right to decide when, where, and how she’s going to become a mother, and if she’s going to become a mother at all. We no longer have laws against couples living together before marriage, and a young couple no longer has to immediately marry so they have a socially approved outlet for their sexual feelings. There are so many options for birth control these days, including emergency contraception.
Most importantly, a woman’s reproductive destiny should be her own choosing, shared only with her partner, her doctor or midwife, and her deity. It should not be decided by men who think that rape is just another method of conception, nor should it be decided by people who are still operating under the idea that women are either Madonnas or whores, and that only bad girls have premarital sex. Not everyone is in the position to raise a baby when pregnancy occurs, and no woman should be forced to have a child conceived from rape or incest, nor should she have to remain pregnant when it’s putting her life in danger.