Here's a happy thought for the day: This is the last Wednesday we have to think about this upcoming election. Or as Zelda likes to phrase it, "This time next week" we'll have a new president.
Now that you're in your happy place I'm going to talk about abortion. I am the Queen of the Bait & Switch.
If you'd asked me as little as a month ago what my top voting priorities were abortion would not have been among them. Being pro-choice is important to me and the removal of that choice has concerned me since I discovered it might be taken away but it seemed like a marginal issue when economic and foreign policy concerns felt so much pervasive and immediate. Then I participated in some political...discussions. I've probably participated in more of those this election cycle than in any one before and I worked in a freaking democratic battleground in 2004, routinely having my intelligence, patriotism and morality called into question. I noticed that I became heated when the subject of choice arose and had a really hard time keeping myself in check so I could continue to debate respectfully. I wondered a bit why I was so emotionally connected to something from which I am, for all practical purposes, completely removed. I'm almost 40, I'm not having of the sex these days (sigh), though I can see myself having a family it would be a family that was gathered together not born from me, I've never been pregnant so there's no evidence that I could be and the window for that, she is pretty narrow at this juncture.
Then, on a routine read through Feministing I came across this quote by Lynn Paltrow (emphasis mine):
In August, at the Saddleback Civil Forum, Pastor Rick Warren asked both presidential candidates: "At what point is a baby entitled to human rights?" Senator John McCain's answer, "at the moment of conception," immediately established his anti-abortion bona fides.
But the right answer, as a matter of international human rights principles and simple justice, is: human rights attach at birth, not at conception.This is the only position that ensures that upon becoming pregnant, women do not lose their human rights.
Political candidates of all persuasions should rest assured that to oppose the recognition of human rights before birth is not to deny the value of potential life as matter of religious belief, emotional conviction or personal experience. Rather, it is to recognize the value of the women who give that life.
To oppose a woman's right to choose, in whole or in part, is to oppose a woman's human right to be a full and participatory member of society. It is to forcibly turn her into a conduit for a portion of her life rather than the complete person she is. Audio Girl keeps talking to me about how she worries that sexism is both more pervasive and more accepted in our society than any other prejudice and I had been reluctant to agree with her until I read Ms. Paltrow's words.
Choice overall is not a black and white issue. You can tell me, "But what if Mother Theresa had been aborted?" and I can reply, "Well, what if the Columbine killers had?" You can believe that the potential for a person deserves a certain respect and I will too, though the sort of respect we seek may differ. All of your arguments are perfectly valid and useful when discussing your opposition to abortion within the full range of choices with an individual. However, when you legislate your beliefs onto my body you, with prejudice and disrespect, remove my right as a fully functioning human being to make the choice for myself.
So, as it turns out, abortion and its full spectrum of choices and responsibilities are right at the very top of the list of issues upon which I vote because if you do not respect my value as that fully functioning member of society then I will be barred from complete participation in the solution process of all these other issues. I will simply be a vessel, too stupid, too untrustworthy to make decisions about things as close as my own heart and therefore unworthy to make decisions about things larger than that and that is a level of disrespect I cannot abide. Ms. Paltrow didn't put this belief on me, she said something that allowed me to find it where it lay waiting to be discovered in myself and that is one of the many things for which I will be grateful to this election. I have already started to make this change of which we speak and while it has been hard it is equally good.