Friday, January 22, 2010

Trusting Women is Being Pro-Choice

This post was written to commemorate the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and participate in NARAL Pro-Choice America’s 5th Annual Blog for Choice Day.

In June 2009, NARAL Pro-Choice America began a “Trust Women” campaign to commemorate and honor Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider who was murdered by an anti-choice extremist on May 31st. His motto was “Trust Women”; he wore a button with those words every day. “Trust Women” bracelets were sold to commemorate Dr. Tiller, and the phrase began to spread across nation as a rallying cry for the pro-choice community.

The “Trust Women” motto was inspired by Dr. Tiller, but it is more than just a borrowed phrase. It represents pro-choice values at their simplest. Trusting women means putting decisions about their health and lives in their hands and giving them the tools to make the best possible decisions. Pro-choice advocates trust women in all the issues they support.

We trust women by supporting their right to end a pregnancy. Politicians and judges should have no say in women’s private health decisions, because they cannot possibly know the situation of every woman. Women are in the best position to know what is best for them, so they should be the ones making decisions about themselves.

We trust women by giving them all the resources they need. Even when women have the right to make a decision, they may not always have the opportunity. Providing financial assistance and support for women who terminate pregnancies, have children, and choose to adopt encourages women to make a decision based on what is best for them.

We trust women (and adolescents) by educating them about sexuality, reproductive health, and pregnancy options. We trust that women and children can make good choices if they are given the information. We challenge abstinence-only advocates that believe teaching adolescents about safe sex will encourage them to have more sex.

Many ideas from the anti-choice movement are rooted in a distrust of women. Mandatory counseling laws suggest that women do not fully understand pregnancy or abortion (because if they did, they would never consider getting one). Crisis pregnancy centers give women inaccurate medical information because they don’t trust women to make the “right” decision. Opponents of emergency contraception believe that young people will see its availability as a reason to take no precautions during sex.

Trusting women is easy. All it takes is letting go of sexist mantras, reducing the restrictions on women’s reproductive freedom, and creating supportive environments for women to make the decision that is best for them. Granted, those are of big steps for anti-choicers, so they’ll have to take them one at a time. In the mean time, let us pro-choicers continue to trust women and encourage our peers to do so as well. Let us not stop until every politician, judge, doctor, pharmacist, man and woman trust that women can and should have authority over their own lives. Actually, let us not stop ever.

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