Thursday, March 29, 2012

Birth control = a human right

For the bulk of my adult life – from ages 23 to 45 – I took birth control pills. It was the right thing to do for me. At first, it was to delay childbirth until an undefined “later.” When “later” came along and I realized that I valued peace and quiet far more than the inevitable chaos that children bring, I took pills to hold onto my peaceful, quiet lifestyle. I only stopped because my doctor said that pills were not good for women of a certain age.

At this point, I could try from now until menopause to get pregnant and fail. What I would do in case of an unplanned pregnancy is something I don’t worry about anymore. Not much, anyways.

I do worry about what other women are able to do about their unplanned pregnancies.

I have felt this way since I was old enough to be aware of the issue: Women’s power is curtailed unless they have full control over when they get pregnant. Men can say what they want, but it is the woman alone who takes on the physical risks of pregnancy, which can lead all the way up to death. Contraception is nothing less than a human right – and when contraception fails, it is necessary that abortion be an option.

Too many American states are walking backward on this issue. Why? Is it because as women (and non-whites, and the non-religious) become stronger, the forces of traditionalism become more shrill and strident, fighting for their lives before it’s too late?

In my heart, I know the traditionalists will lose in the long run. But we must never take anything for granted.

Life is meant to be lived facing forward, not back. I had the freedom to choose my own reproductive destiny. I will stand up so every other woman, now and in the future, can have that same freedom. After all, one of our codified American freedoms is “the pursuit of happiness.” For some of us, that means two children, or one – or none.

Think about it.

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