One day a friend and I were yapping over coffee and the right to choose came up. My friend took a sip of her latte, and said, “I’m pro-life for myself, but pro-choice for everyone else.”
Frothed milk almost came out of my nose. Incredulous I asked her, “So, you think that other women should have the right to make choices about their bodies and lives, but you need the government to decide for you?” She became upset, and told me that no, it was because she values life above all else. But who’s to say that those of us who are pro-choice do not value life?
Maternal death rates claim the lives of over half a million women each year. The United States rates 41st in maternal health which makes the risk of maternal death here in the U.S. greater than virtually all other industrialized nations. If a woman chooses to bear children, she is indeed choosing to risk her own life. Not only is she risking her health in pregnancy, but her future and the future of her family as well. With education funding being diminished, domestic violence and other programs’ funding being taken away, women’s wages being 70% of men’s wages, unspoken discrimination against mothers looking to enter the workforce as well as lack of affordable childcare in this country, not to mention the social stigma of being a single mother; to take this choice away, would be forcing women to endanger their own lives. Therefore, the right to abortion is having the right to choose life, one’s own life.
In the past two decades, the maternal death rate here in the U.S. has more than doubled. This number is skewed by race and class, where impoverished women of color are much more likely to experience maternal complications and have less access to proper health care. In Amnesty International’s report entitled, “Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA,” it is stated that women currently do not have the fundamental human right to give birth safely in this country.(Amnesty International, 2010)
The feminization of poverty is a current phenomenon where the overrepresentation of women and women headed households exists in the lowest socio-economic groups. Current policies in this country do not create enough of a safety net for women and their families who are without financial or social resources. Poor mothers are stigmatized by society, especially if they receive welfare. Sex equality in the workplace is still unattained. Affordable childcare remains elusive. These are only a few of the reasons why a woman would be reluctant to begin, or add onto her family.
In conclusion, to force a woman to risk her life and her future in childbirth could be likened to bringing back the military draft for men. If it is agreed that forcing men to risk their lives is unethical, then the same courtesy should be extended to women. It is not the place of society or the government to make this choice for anyone. Nor is it the place for anyone to decide which life gets valued over another.
Amnesty International. "Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Healthcare Crisis in the United States." Deadly Delivery. Amnesty International, 2010. Web. 8 May 2010.
Goldberg, Gertrude S., and Eleanor Kremen. The Feminization of Poverty: Only in America? New York: Greenwood, 1990. Print.
Kaiser Network. "Pregnancy & Childbirth | Maternal Mortality Rate in U.S. Highest in Decades, Experts Say - Kaisernetwork.org." Kaiser Health News. Kaiser Foundation, 2007. Web. 08 May 2010.