This post is part of our "What Does Choice Mean to You?" series commemorating the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
On the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, when I envision a world where
women and men have true freedom of choice, I see a society that believes that a
woman is smart and capable enough to decide what is best for herself and her
family. And, because every woman has a different reality, the notion of
choice includes the acknowledgment that the right choice will not look the same
for every person.
True freedom of choice includes women’s ability to access safe, legal abortion
services, but it does not end there. The concept of choice-the legal right
to an abortion-is not meaningful to a low-income woman who cannot afford one or
whose insurance will not cover it. Choice to me also embraces the ability
for women and men to be able to delay pregnancy by ensuring access to
affordable and reliable contraceptive methods. This includes funding for
research and development of more options for male birth control,
consumer-protective measures to ensure timely access to emergency
contraception, and health insurance reform that doesn’t allow insurance companies
to charge women more than men for coverage. Choice is the ability to
choose whether to get the HPV
vaccine regardless of immigration status. Choice also includes access
to comprehensive sex education that teaches students the truth about sex and
sexuality, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy, and educates kids on
relationship violence, sexual violence, and respect in relationships. We
know that when we lie to kids about sex, they engage in riskier behaviors, and
that kind of education does not encourage responsible decision-making or foster
Choice includes the support and resources necessary to parent the children we
may already have. And, women who choose to give birth have the right to give
birth with dignity-whether that choice includes a physician, midwife, or doula;
a hospital or a home birth; and so on. Thus, choice includes the ability
for the woman giving birth to choose the type of birthing conditions most
suitable to her.
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Choice to me includes the ability for everyone to marry the partner of their
choosing, and support for their chosen family formations. While it is
unacceptable that most states don’t provide the same legal protections to
same-sex couples as they do straight couples, it is unthinkable that some
states actually ban gay couples from fostering or adopting children.
Reflecting on the Roe anniversary reminded me of something that was said in the
aftermath of the Stupak abortion ban passing in the House. Someone told
me, "Well, you just can’t have it all." Translation: we can’t have health
care reform, and protect women’s rights and reproductive rights, and
treat immigrants fairly, and so on. To which I said: That is
ludicrous. Of course we can have it all. And we won’t
stop until we do.