Response to “Pro-life is pro-woman”
Jackie O'Brien | Friday, September 28, 2018
I agree with the author of “Pro-life is pro-woman” and Notre Dame’s Right to Life Club that all persons have an intrinsic worth that is based neither on gender, circumstance, race, ethnicity or any other characterization.
However, there are several places in the author’s argument where I do disagree with their arguments. First, I would like to establish the fact that this piece is inherently binary in thought, and does not recognize many people in our society who are of the intrinsic worth that the author illustrates, as well.
Now, I would like to go through several of the arguments that author lays out to show you the ways in which greater access to contraception is inherently the most pro-woman policy possible.
“To say that access to contraception and abortion is an absolutely essential part of making women’s equality a reality is to say that women are not valuable as women.”
Viewing this claim, it is clear to see that the author is arguing that women are only valuable as women in their ability to reproduce. To assert that access to contraception diminishes the value of women as women, is to believe that their reproductive system is the primary distinguishing feature of womanhood. I disagree with this. I see myself as having distinctive worth in many ways, separate from my ability to birth a child. I believe that I have different experiences from my male counterparts, and my unique place in society as a woman allows me to view situations in different ways.
I believe that I am worthy of everything men are — not because I can have a child, but because I am smart, capable and carry a unique perspective.
“To put it lightly, women must medically alter their reproductive biology, either through preventative or remedial action, so that they can behave sexually in a way similar to men.”
The author argues that accessibility to contraception methods and abortion is an attempt to turn women into men. That by “sabotaging” their reproductive systems, they are attempting to gain equality by giving up their unique womanhood. This is not the case. Rather, it allows women to embrace their sense of womanhood in the way that they best see fit.
While the author seems to believe that giving women the option to sexually behave in a way similar to men is a bad thing, I see this as a wonderful thing. Relieving women of the burden associated with their reproductive health when having safe, consensual sexual experiences is most definitely a good thing. Additionally, the use of contraceptive methods does not mean that women can never accept that responsibility later on. Rather, it allows them to pace their sexual life with their own personal timeline so that they can accept the gift of motherhood when they are ready. This is the most pro-woman policy, because it gives women greater freedom in their sexual health, and the choice to live their life in a way they best see fit.
Additionally, contraception reduces the need of any woman to have the terrible experience of considering an abortion in the first place. According to the Guttmacher Institute, “The U.S. abortion rate declined 14 percent between 2011 and 2014, reaching a record low. The evidence suggests that contraception and fewer unintended pregnancies played a larger role in these most recent declines than new abortion restrictions. Well over 60 percent of the decline in the number of abortions occurred in states without new restrictions.” Isn’t this what we all want? Greater freedom for women, and fewer abortions?
Furthermore, I feel it important to recognize the people in our society who use birth control for a variety of other reasons outside that of contraception. Many people utilize hormonal contraception to relieve systems associated with endometriosis, as well as other conditions. Additionally, the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (a major issue here at Notre Dame) is an important benefit of contraception that went unrecognized.
“Widespread usage of contraception has largely resulted in a culture that values women only for what they can give sexually, and that does not see women as worth a lifetime commitment of love and support.”
Unfortunately, this is one of the most sexist arguments that one can make against the sexual freedom of women. To equate a woman’s sexually liberal choices and lifestyle with their worth is a concept that is directly derived from a patriarchy that devalues many individuals in our society. Limiting a woman’s access to contraception and abortion will have no direct effect on the sexualization of women in the media, which I believe the author is intending to reference here. Rather, it will restrict women who wish to live as a sexually active individual, undermining her fundamental freedoms and asserting that her self-worth must be derived from the love of another.
Arguments against abortion are a separate matter to consider, but to acknowledge ready access to contraception as anti-woman is inherently wrong. Rather, it is inherently anti-choice. Ms. Johnson does not have the right to define the experiences of all women, nor decide what sexual life they want to engage in. Contraception gives women the right to choose how they want to handle their sexual health. It expands freedom. Those who don’t wish to use contraception do not have to, but under no circumstances can you tell women who are actively using contraception, that they are attempting to become men, sabotaging their reproductive systems or are acting against their own interests.
Ms. Johnson and I want the same thing, for all people in our society to be treated equally and be seen as having the same value. So, let’s expand freedoms, not limit them, and give women the choice and ability to control their sexual health.
Jackie is a junior at Notre Dame majoring in political science and peace studies. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, in her free time she can be found discussing politics or the personal merits of Harrison Ford. All questions can be directed to: [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.