Last semester I took a women’s health course where students had the privilege of reading an educational book regarding issues related to women’s health. I selected a booked entitled Pushed: The painful truths about childbirth and modern maternity care, by Jennifer Block. This intriguing book dramatically describes hospital births gone bad and complicated home or doula births gone smooth. Though potentially biased, Pushed provided an important analysis of the hyper-medicalized birthing process and raised questions that most healthcare providers and seekers fail to address.
I would like to focus in on an abstract issue that Block addressed in her investigation: pro- choice. Today women are supposedly given protection and freedom to choose what does and does not happen to their bodies. Thanks to Roe v. Wade this principle of self-governance has the strongest association with abortion rights, possibly because this is the most controversial and heated debate surrounding women’s choice. The point that Block argues is that there are so many essential rights granted under women’s choice that all women should support the rights to their body. Basically, women can be morally opposed to abortion but support pro-choice because without abortion rights women loose other necessary rights. For example, “Many illegal home-birth mid-wives, even those who are vehemently opposed to abortion, defend their criminal activity in terms of protecting women’s choices.” A woman’s right to give birth where she wants under the conditions she claims are best for her child is fundamentally her choice. To forfeit women’s choices because of the legality of abortion hands all control to healthcare providers. Women have the right and obligation to take control of their birthing process, to monitor and have control over medical intervention, and these rights seem to be a package deal accompanied by pro-choice.
I am personally morally opposed to abortion. I maintain a pro-life perspective and find abortion to be, in most cases, a selfish and horrific act. It is, however, necessary to provide that choice to women. If not, we enter a world where women seeking abortion are in danger of the law and medical abuse- similar to women seeking home births today. Collectively and individually women need to better understand the privilege it is to govern their body and what implications such rights, or lack thereof, present. At that point we begin to defend what we are more in tune with than any physician–our bodies.