Reflections on Roe: Why I Support a Woman’s Right to Choose


by Stephanie Kunkel, Legislative Director
Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates

This morning, as I updated my Facebook status to celebrate the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade with a message about how thankful I was that I have the right to make personal decisions about my body, I would never have guessed how many anti-choice comments I would receive -  and from my friends and family no less! 

Those comments back and forth, pro-choice and anti-choice, really got me thinking.  I have always been, and will always be, a staunch defender of a woman’s right to choose.  Never for one minute will I stop defending a woman’s right to make a personal decision about her own body, in consultation with her family and her doctor.  It is why I stand at the front doors of those clinics and escort women inside. It is why I hold their hands as they go through the procedure. And it is why I lobby every day for birth control to be affordable and accessible – so that women can PLAN for pregnancy and not have to be faced with the choice.  

While I was celebrating Roe, I started noticing many anti-choice status updates on the pages of friends and acquaintances.  Some were angry at “the women who choose to murder their babies,” while others were “praying for the unborn” and still others were believing that “all Roe v. Wade did was teach people to not take responsibility for their actions.” 

No one likes abortion. Yet, should a woman be faced with an unplanned pregnancy or, god forbid, a fetal anomaly of a planned and wanted pregnancy, she should have the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy in a licensed medical facility by a licensed, medical professional, and not in some seedy back alley.

That’s what Roe v. Wade did.  And that’s why I celebrate the anniversary of this event every year. 

 

Learn more at:

http://www.floridaplannedparenthood.org

 

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  • grayduck

     

    "Yet, should a woman be faced with an unplanned pregnancy or, god forbid, a fetal anomaly of a planned and wanted pregnancy, she should have the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy in a licensed medical facility by a licensed, medical professional, and not in some seedy back alley."

     

    If you just support allowing women abortion in cases of unintended pregnancy and health problems, why do pre-viability abortions need to be legal through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever?

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

     

  • julie-watkins

    flexibility that won’t be accused of making abortion "legal through all nine months of pregnancy".
    There are no abortion laws in Canada — for decades — and there hasn’t been outbreaks of the worst kind of doctors. It’s handled by medical standards, which is a better fit for abortion than laws.
  • crowepps

    If you just support allowing women abortion in cases of unintended pregnancy and health problems, why do pre-viability abortions need to be legal through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever?

    First, she did not say that those were the only abortions that she supported.

     

    Secondly, ‘previability abortions’ cannot happen after the threshhold of viability, which is just slight over halfway through the pregnancy, so there is no way ‘previability abortions’ can be done during the entire nine months.  Assuming that there isn’t anything physically wrong with the fetus, it would definitely be viable in the ninth month, probably be viable in the eighth month although likely damaged, and rarely but possibly be viable in the seventh month, which is precisely why the law has restrictions in those months and they cannot be done ‘for any reason whatsoever’.

     

    The problem with having laws to restrict abortion instead of using standards of medical ethics is that the law is slow and not a good guide in cases of emergency, while medical ethics place the necessary decisions in the hands of the persons there present who know precisely what the facts are.  Threatening a doctor with a possible prison sentence does not help him think clearly, but instead may inhibit him from making any decision at all.  In the case of emergency complications, legally it’s ‘not his fault’ if the woman dies while he’s on the phone with his lawyer checking to see if a particular operation is permitted.

     

    I’m beginning to think you construct your posts by stringing together as many ProLife buzzwords as possible without actually thinking about what they mean.

  • prochoicegoth

    Um, pre-viability is BEFORE 6 months of pregnancy. Viability starts at 24 weeks, or 6 months. How can pre-viability be throughout all nine months? 

     


    It’s pro-choice or
    NO choice.

  • grayduck

    Julie Watkins on January 25, 2010 – 11:57pm: "There’s no good way to write a law that gives doctors enough flexibility that won’t be accused of making abortion "legal through all nine months of pregnancy."

     

    Many, many countries have gestational time limits on unrestricted or nearly-unrestricted abortion, including India, Russia, Kazakhstan, the Ukraine, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, and Sweden. Are you saying that those countries deny doctors adequate flexibility?

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • grayduck

    ProChoiceGoth on January 26, 2010 – 7:03pm: "Viability starts at 24 weeks, or 6 months. How can pre-viability be throughout all nine months?"

     

    If you believe that fetuses always become viable at 24 weeks gestation (presumably LMP), then you have a fundamental disagreement with the Supreme Court’ legally-binding interpretation of its own Roe v. Wade decision. In the 1976 Planned Parenthood v. Danforth case, the Court ruled that "…it is not the proper function of the legislature or the courts to place viability, which essentially is a medical concept, at a specific point in the gestation period. The time when viability is achieved may vary with each pregnancy…" The Court did not permit any gestational time limits on unrestricted abortion at all- even very late in pregnancy.

     

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=428&invol=52

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • harry834

    In the 1976 Planned Parenthood v. Danforth case, the Court ruled that "…it is not the proper function of the legislature or the courts to place viability, which essentially is a medical concept, at a specific point in the gestation period. The time when viability is achieved may vary with each pregnancy…" The Court did not permit any gestational time limits on unrestricted abortion at all- even very late in pregnancy.

    But all this says is that it is for the medical professionals to decide, rather than the government. That seems to support Julie’s call for medical standards rather than government restrictions.

  • harry834

    of your position?

  • julie-watkins
    And thanks for that quote!
    Julie
  • julie-watkins
    What I should have wrote was: "There’s no good way to write a law in the USA that would give the protection against abuse that people who don’t trust women and doctors are demanding that would give doctors enough flexibility. When reasonable flexibility is granted the law is accused of making abortion "legal through all nine months of pregnancy."
    I don’t know the situation in other countries. Where the laws are reasonable I think it would be a combination of trusting women & doctors, good sex education, good safety nets & universal health care.
  • paul-bradford

    I have always been, and will always be, a staunch defender of a woman’s right to choose.

     

    Stephanie,

     

    I have tried, with only limited success, to bend over backwards to assure people on this ‘site that I have no interest in attacking a woman’s right to choose abortion.  I do this precisely because I’ve discovered that conversation absolutely ceases when folks start to "staunchly defend" their positions.

     

    How would it be if I suggested that we draw a distinction between women’s rights that have to be defended (such as the choice whether or not to abort) and women’s rights that can be advanced.  I would include among the rights that can be advanced the right of a woman to avoid motherhood all together in the event that she doesn’t want a child.

     

    At first it might appear that these are the very same rights — but I see an important difference.

     

    Would it be pressing too fine a point if I were to suggest that the woman who aborts is further from the goal of "avoiding motherhood" than the woman who never gets pregnant in the first place?  Certainly, there is no completely satisfactory way for every woman who wants to be childless to avoid motherhood — that is to say we cannot have 100% perfection.  Just the same, though, the right to avoid motherhood can be advanced.  It is actually possible for us to promote policies that will enable more women to do a better job of preventing unwanted pregnancy.  That would mean that we were advancing a right rather than defending one.  The issue of a woman’s right to choose abortion never even comes up if her right to choose to avoid motherhood all together has been met.

     

    The exhausting and debilitating dance that takes place between those who attack a woman’s right to choose abortion and those who defend a woman’s right to choose abortion does nothing whatsoever to advance a woman’s right to completely opt out of motherhood.  I propose that we refocus our attention away from the ‘choose abortion’ issue and toward the more useful ‘choose childlessness’ issue.

     

    It turns out that there’s an added benefit.  It turns out that the right to ‘choose childlessness’ is a right that men also desire and one that is in their power to advance.  Men and women are capable of being allies in the quest to advance each other’s right to ‘choose childlessness’.  We can support each other without even considering the matter of defending or attacking a woman’s right to choose abortion. 

     

    To do this we would have to break out of well-worn habits of competing with each other in an effort to ‘attack’ or ‘defend’.  Instead we would have to learn to cooperate with each other in an effort to ‘advance’. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • grayduck

    Harry834 on January 26, 2010 – 11:57pm: "But all this says is that it is for the medical professionals to decide, rather than the government. That seems to support Julie’s call for medical standards rather than government restrictions."

     

    So? I was citing that passage to show ProChoiceGoth that her understanding of constitutional law was apparently mistaken, not because I agreed with the sentiment expressed in the quote.

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • stephanie4

    Since there might have been some initial confusion about my post, allow me to clarify.  And thanks to all who have taken the time not only to read my post but to share their thoughts as well!  :)

    I support a woman making a choice about what to do with an unplanned pregnancy or a planned and wanted pregnancy.  I think each and every woman who is faced with this decision, does so in a different capacity than the next woman who is faced with this decision, so lumping all women who have an abortion, or who are faced with the potential need for and abortion, into one category, can not be possible.

    The woman whose birth control failed is very different than the woman who is raped, or the woman who plans and wants a child, yet is faced with a severe illness or a fetal anomaly and continuing with the pregnancy is not in the woman’s best interest.  Yet, each of these scenarios are governed by the same abortion restrictions, and each of these women often face protesters who scream out obscenities or are "prayed for" at a family planning center’s door. 

    There was also some comment about my "staunch support" for a woman’s right to choose.  Perhaps "unwavering commitment" to choice is a better term?  My support for a woman’s ability to make a personal decision as to the outcome of an unwanted pregnancy, or a wanted pregnancy that leads to the potential need for an abortion, will never change.  Yet, I should also clarify here that I have always welcomed enlightened conversation about the topic, or any conversation about women’s reproductive health in general.  Without conversation and dialogue, there is no ability to listen and understand where the two sides share common ground, and to understand why it is that a person believes what they believe. 

  • stephanie4

    GrayDuck,

    I support a woman to be able to decide what to do with an unplanned pregnancy, or a planned and wanted pregnancy, no matter whether we are talking about a zygote or a fetus at 9 months of development.

    Regardless of viability, abortions need to be legal because of a whole host of medical reasons, as well as the most important reason and that is if the woman chooses not to continue with the pregnancy.  No woman should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term if she does not wish to, or if it is not in her, or the fetus’, best medical interest to do so.    

  • crowepps

    each of these women often face protesters who scream out obscenities or are "prayed for" at a family planning center’s door. 

    I became actively involved in ProChoice activism when a woman approaching the clinic in Anchorage years ago had to listen to protestors screaming ‘don’t kill your baby’ even AFTER her husband personally asked for some mercy from those protestors because the couple was there for the removal of a fetus that was already dead.  The protestors wouldn’t let up but instead insisted that abortion was ‘evil’ even in those circumstances and continued to scream at her.  People like that are motivated by contempt for and hatred of women.