January 21, 2008

What It Means to Vote Pro-Choice

by PG

Blog for Choice Day I received an email from Molly Jackson at Pro Choice America, asking bloggers to participate again in Blog for Choice Day (Roe's anniversary). She said, "This year, we're asking people to blog about why they vote pro-choice."

I consider myself a pro-choice voter, but some people probably wouldn't. For example, I don't consider Roe v. Wade to be a gold standard of constitutional reasoning, and therefore have no problem with a presidential or Senate candidate who says he would support a judicial nominee who disagrees with Roe. On the other hand, I consider Congress's "partial birth" abortion ban to be an appalling instance of hypocrisy among the supposed defenders of federalism (Ron Paul and Fred Thompson both go down on this count) and of medical ignorance by politicians, even those who ought to know better (Bill Frist, Tom Coburn). The Supreme Court decision upholding it was a display of revolting paternalism by Justice Kennedy. A judicial nominee who agrees with Gonzales v. Carhart is far more dangerous than one who disagrees with Roe. The latter may think fetuses should be protected from others' decisions by the government, which is a position I oppose but can respect; the former thinks women should be protected from their own decisions, a position that I find reprehensible.

As the above might indicate, I incline to Justice Ginsburg's view that the right to abortion is more properly founded in equality of the sexes than in privacy. I feel this way about Lawrence v. Texas as well; inasmuch as anal sex anatomically is more dangerous to sexual health than are other practices, it could be prohibited by the state, but there's nothing about anatomy that makes anal sex more dangerous for homosexuals than for heterosexuals. Thus the decision invalidating the statute should have rested on Texas's prohibiting sodomizing a man but not a woman, thus engaging in unconstitutional sex discrimination.

On the legislative side, I wish that Senator Clinton had put some substance behind past speeches about how abortion is a tragic choice for many women, and that we need to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place, by supporting either pro-choice legislation for pregnancy prevention or pro-life legislation for making adoption and childrearing easier. There seems to be a fear among pro-choice politicians that any alliance with those who are not pro-choice with regard to abortion is necessarily going to be to women's detriment. Yet being truly pro-choice means supporting women's access to as many choices as possible, whether it is to be sexually abstinent, to use one of a variety of contraceptive measures, to have an abortion, to have an open or closed adoption, or to raise a baby. If a woman wishes that her situation -- particularly a situation of lacking resources -- didn't seem to compel her to have an abortion, then part of being pro-choice is helping her change that situation.

January 21, 2008 8:33 PM | TrackBack
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