A woman’s right to choose, but actually.

I’ve been called a lot of mean names in my time. Some of them have been really nasty, some of them have been really funny, but they’ve all been meant to serve a purpose. And that purpose was to make me into something less, that’s always the purpose of name calling.

It wasn’t really a name so much as it was a term, that term was pro- abortion. Now, that’s not really something that I care a whole lot about. The first time someone called me that to my face I was fifteen, and representing probably the only public school at a national public speaking competition. I was young and passionate and had a fair shot less tact than I like to think I have now (though there are certainly some who would beg to differ) and I was wearing a series of pro-choice badges.

At fifteen I didn’t really care that much then either, except that I did have to correct him and point out that I wasn’t pro abortion- I was pro choice. This is the same distinction that I make now when I have exactly the same argument that I make six years later, I am not pro abortion, I am pro choice.

This is not to say that I am in any way anti-abortion, I believe unequivocally that, for some women, abortion is the best possible decision that they can make for themselves. This belief, however, does not make me pro abortion, because I know the cost that that choice can have on some women. Not all women, but some, because they feel the decision deeply.

I don’t believe that a child is a child until it can live outside of the body of it’s mother, until it can do that it is simply a collection of cells. However, this is not a view that is shared by all people. For some there is a belief that a baby exists from the moment of conception. Their belief should be respected within the realm of their personal choices. The problem with this belief begins when their position is used as a basis for a change in law.

Abortion must be legal, safe and free if women are to have the right to choose. At the same time there must be opportunities for women, particularly young women, to carry their pregnancies to full term and keep or adopt their child. There must be free access to child care, educational opportunities and real pathways to university for women with children.

Australia is, for the most part, pro choice. 81% of Australian’s in a 2003 study said they believed that a woman should have the right to choose if she wanted to keep a child or not. The country is where I am, believing that all women should have the right to control what they do with their bodies.

We as a movement of feminist’s need to be careful with the line that we run, however, because for as long as we are pro choice we need to be just that. Pro choice means supporting women’s rights to make the choice right for them. This doesn’t mean they make the choice that we would have made for them.

Being pro-choice means lobbying not only for abortion which is legal, safe and free. It means lobbying for more flexible education hours, better and cheaper child care and stable and affordable housing. In states where we have won the battle over a woman’s right to choose, like Victoria, we need to make sure we haven’t forgotten the women we occasionally silence, those who do choose to have their children.

I saw a fantastic picture on a friend’s wall the other day. It said pro women, pro children, pro choice. We need to ensure that we’re including everyone in  our pro choice campaigns, and ensure all women have the right to make the choice that is right for them. 

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