2 September 2012

women’s choices about pregnancy are not a question of will, or luck, or magic vagina barricades

"But choice is power. It forces you to live in the active present tense, not the editorially lazy passive construction of this-happened-to-me. Make a choice and you can’t abdicate responsibility to the real or perceived will of others or the now of perpetual distraction. Make a choice and you confront the closed mystery of the choice not chosen. If ambivalence is a hallmark of denial, choice is an acceptance of time, mortality, limits.

There’s a lot of magical thinking about pregnancy going around these days. In the personal sphere it’s a waste of time; in the public sphere it is terrifying and destructive.

Contrary to the beliefs of conservative politicians, women’s choices about pregnancy are not a question of will, or luck, or magic vagina barricades. Getting pregnant is neither punishment nor reward. It is not a magical blessing or a curse — and it most definitely is not a silver bullet you can use to shoot yourself out of a rut. It is a plain biological fact that may or may not result in a healthy baby, that could immeasurably enhance or irreversibly damage your life prospects.

Women are raped and get pregnant. Women in loving monogamous relationships who want to get pregnant can’t. Women with five children are forced by circumstance or religion to have more. Lesbian women who long to be parents have their hopes squashed by red tape and bigotry. Single women who get pregnant by accident and suddenly have to re-evaluate their attitudes toward the whole question of whether they will ever raise children end up miscarrying.

In the world of women’s reproductive health, choice isn’t only a euphemism for safe, legal abortion. Choice — true choice — entails sex education and work-life balance and accessible, affordable prenatal medical care for all pregnant women, regardless of income or employment status."

from Knocked Over: On Biology, Magical Thinking and Choice by Martha Bayne.

No comments: