Choice is the conscience decision-making process we engage in to do what is best for ourselves, our homes, and our families. It is having access to information. It is having access to our options. And it is being able to carry out our decisions. Choices are sometimes easy, sometimes difficult; sometimes our own, sometimes made for us; sometimes public, sometimes private. But they are what make us human. And humans are too complex to legislate.
Choices In Birth means something immeasurable to birth. It means birth options are here, now, in her town, in your town, in any town. It means that birth options are available to this woman, to that woman, to any woman. Choice rebirthed and the world made bigger because of more birth options for more women.
I fervently identified as pro-choice. However, how I define abortion rights is not as simple as being pro-choice. At the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, we are faced with talking about abortion rights within the broader context of women’s real lives.
There are some decisions which can be only me made by us as individuals. These are inviolable personal choices. These are the decisions about our sexuality and how we will express it, about our bodies and what we will and will not do with them. But to make these personal choices, we need knowledge.
Given my struggle to get pregnant, I suppose it was only expected that I found it so hard to become unpregnant, too. Several months after my D and C, I am still “pregnant.”
Because of Roe v. Wade, and because of Rosie’s death, I am able to sit here and write this. I am able to accomplish what Rosie had planned for herself and have become a teacher. Because of Rosie, I can dream bigger, travel farther, educate others, and help people experiencing an abortion as their abortion doula.
I first became aware of abortion around the same time I became aware of many things related to sex and sexuality – during puberty. At the time, abortion represented survival to me. As a little brown girl from the Bronx, I knew what the statistics said about girls like me and our chances of “success.” If I knew one thing, I knew this: I was not going to come home and tell my mother that I was pregnant.
Reproductive choice is our right and also our responsibility, an awesome responsibility. But in an even more profound sense, choice is the human condition. It defines us as humans, and we are in turn defined by the choices we make. Choice is the basis of morality after all, and it is sacrifice as much as it is freedom.
There will always be a part of me that is fond of “choice,” such as the part of me that believes in the reproductive justice movement. But the part of me that must endure seeing my sisters denied access, or scrutinized for using the resources they do have, knows that choice is only for a few.
Our partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America have demonstrated courage, stamina, creativity, and resilience in the face of fierce opposition, guided by the conviction that no woman is free unless she has the right to make decisions about her own body. And, like any movement for social justice, the movement for safe abortion internationally has seen its ups and downs. But today as we celebrate the 37th anniversary of Roe, we must all recognize the importance of the ongoing movement for abortion rights worldwide, a movement that will require the dedicated efforts and support of women and men for years to come.