Choosing Choice

Roe v. Wade anniversary brings abortion to the fore

When I look at, say, the slaughter of dolphins off the coast of Japan I think it’s disgusting and barbaric. Despite my offense, I have no investment in that community and don’t believe I have any place demanding that they end the slaughter under the guise that I know better.

Similarly, if someone demands that I stop eating red meat, I will wonder how my diet affects them and then categorize such a person a busybody crackpot. If the dolphin butchers choose, however, to go after an endangered species, then it affects me. Then it becomes a matter of extinction of part of our biological diversity, which could have an impact on everyone.

That’s more or less how I look at abortion. It’s not my place to enter the debate for one simple reason: It’s biologically impossible for me to get pregnant. So how the hell can I know what I’m talking about?

Still, with the Jan. 22 anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling that gave women dominion over their reproductive organs, I am compelled to offer a little something, considering so many of my male counterparts on the ”pro-life” side of the debate are laying it on.

There is also a self-serving component, in that I see obvious similarities between LGBT people fighting for control of their bodies and women securing their reproductive rights. Certainly, this view is not universal. Just ask the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, whose views I respect, even if they are not my own.

My view is that with cloning technology, my DNA has the potential to become a fully realized human being. In winter, particularly, when my skin is dry, I’ve scratched myself raw. How many living cells did I indiscriminately destroy in my effort to scratch an itch? But it’s still my decision to make. They are my cells, my body.

People should not be telling me what to do with my body, though that’s not stopped them. Why anyone, particularly someone I’ve not met, believes he has an interest in where I consensually stick my dick is entirely beyond me. Really, get a life.

That ”consensual” caveat will, however, be seized upon. After all, an embryo has no say in whether or not its gestation will be forcibly terminated. In that an embryo is entirely incapable of making any argument, I would defer to the woman hosting it in her uterus. Is she not more qualified than anyone else in existence to make such a decision?

Rick Santorum argues that abortion, like homosexuality, goes against something called ”natural law.” But just as the beast in the forest may enjoy some same-sex dalliances, so too might a woman’s body end a pregnancy if the mother is seriously malnourished, for example. Those may not be laws, but they’re certainly natural.

Lest I seem glib, let me emphasize that I understand the ”pro-life” side, even if they strike me as ”anti-choice.” I don’t suspect their raison d’être is undermining women’s rights, but rather a sincere horror that human life – whether two cells or trillions – is being extinguished. But I’ve been with women struggling through this choice, too, and never have I seen anyone take it lightly. It has only affirmed my conviction that the only person entitled to choose what goes on in one’s body is the person who owns that body. (And please don’t argue that God owns the body, as I’m referring to U.S. law, not the Book of Genesis.)

The words that say it best will be with me always. It was a D.C. pro-choice march I attended sometime in the early 1990s, and ”culture war” performance artist Karen Finley shouted above the crowd, ”Get your laws off my body!” Works for me.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.

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