What Being Pro Choice Really Means

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G. Muffin
What Being Pro Choice Really Means

I consider myself pro choice.  Yet I'm sometimes rattled by stories I read and hear.  So could somebody please articulate what "pro choice" means?

Maysie Maysie's picture

Hey G Pie.

This thread from the archives of the feminist forum has some highs and lows of what pro-choice means.

Please see remind's excellent words at post #17.

An excerpt:

remind wrote:

There is no nuance. It is the woman's choice, point.

The "where does life begin" cannot be factored by those who would try to impose/inflict their personal moral philosophy upon the fact that women have the legal and legislative Right to self-determine.

The bottom line is according to Canadian Law:

quote:a person may not be compelled to use his or her body at the service of another person, even if the other person's life is in danger."

this fact was noted by the SCC in regards to their decisions made about their recognition of woman's equality rights and freedom to choose what happens with their body in D vs T.

This means that even if a fetus being recognized as a "person" has some line drawn, other than first breath one in place now, it means nothing in respect to a woman choosing to have an abortion.

No person, this too means women, can be compelled to give service of their body to another "person" even if that "persons" life is in danger, which of course it would be, if a woman was choosing not to give her body into the service of another "person' by way of having an abortion.

G. Muffin

Thanks, Maysie!  That's exactly what I couldn't find.

And I just noticed!

Merry Christmas, Remind. 

Please email or PM me.  I want to talk to you.

G. Muffin

Could a mod fix my post, please?

The conversation is between me and Remind at this moment.

The last two lines are askew.

"The bottom line ..." is Remind's not mine.

I have been a legal secretary for a decade and carry a huge amount of responsibility when I'm at work.  Yet I cannot successfully edit my own posts.  That would seem to indicate a problem with your software.

Unionist

Hey G., if you Edit your post and put [ /quote ] after the word "self-determine.", it should format correctly. Of course, drop the word spaces in [ /quote ] when you type it in.

remind remind's picture

A woman cannot be compelled, by any means or form, to give her body into the service of another,  just as men have always had the right to personal autonomy, so too do women.

 

...is what it means to me.

remind remind's picture

Hey Merry Christmas GPie....wish I was on VIsland for Christmas would go see you!

remind remind's picture

And oops, I opened this thread long ago and wrote a response, but got called away from the comp so was late in responding, meanwhile maysi posted even better words of mine.... Must be getting briefer as I age. ;)

 

Thanks maysie...

 

GPie, that is a very diffcult question, as yes, I agree with you it is a nuance of sorts.

 

On first blush, I would say I am completely against any type of forced abortion.

 

Though there would/could be nuances for me to consider, if I were in the legal position to have to make such a detemination on the behalf of another.

G. Muffin

remind wrote:
Hey Merry Christmas GPie....wish I was on VIsland for Christmas would go see you!

Yah, you'd do pretty well on a psych ward, Remind.

(Kidding.)

Merry Crispix to all my fellow babblers!!!

Crispix.

It's the Festivus for the rest of us.

The Goodbye Pie:  Cleaning up the Internet since before Al Gore invented it.

G. Muffin

remind wrote:
There is no nuance.

 

I disagree and it's not often that I disagree with Remind.

 

Quote:
It is the woman's choice, point.[sic?]

 

Yup.

 

Quote:
The "where does life begin" cannot be factored by those who would try to impose/inflict their personal moral philosophy upon the fact that women have the legal and legislative Right to self-determine.

 

Yup.

 

Quote:
The bottom line is according to Canadian Law ....

 

So how do you feel, then, about women being given abortions without their consent?

G. Muffin

Unionist wrote:
Hey G., if you Edit your post and put [ /quote ] after the word "self-determine.", it should format correctly. Of course, drop the word spaces in [ /quote ] when you type it in.

Bless you.  Post is now fixed.

G. Muffin

remind wrote:

A woman cannot be compelled, by any means or form, to give her body into the service of another,  just as men have always had the right to personal autonomy, so too do women.

...is what it means to me.

So I gather you're not too shit hot with slavery, either.

Can you boil it {our philosophical position} down even further, Remind?

I can't stomach "available always, for any reason."  I'm more "safe, legal and rare."

Incoming:  Did you know that Jerry Lewis and Jerry Lee Lewis are *not* the same person?

I'm trying to tell a joke about Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin and it keeps bombing.

Always blindsided.  Always the last to know.  Great topic for an essay, right there.

G. Muffin

My position on abortion is consistent with mental health legislation; that is, there is a need for it.  But, my God, use that power wisely.  Coercion in either direction must be trampled.  I had an oops when I was 17, as did many girls I went to high school with.  But we were from South Oak Bay in the 1970s and we were not allowed to keep our children.  That's why I have empathy, but not sympathy, for the rabid pro lifers.

We will prevail because we have the law and natural justice on our side.  There can be no mechanism by which any person (especially a man!) will dictate my body or, especially, my mind.

After he took from you everything he could steal.  How does it feel?  Like a Rolling Stone.

Oldgoat, I'm getting a little woo woo.  Please shut me down until New Years.  Tx.

oldgoat

Done.  Thanks for picking up on that.  Looked up woo woo in the DSM, couldn't find it.

Maysie Maysie's picture

susan, I know you and remind disagree around sex worker issues, and while there are connections and overlaps with what "choice" and "women's bodies are our own" mean, please do not derail this thread.

Stargazer

I don't see it as a derailment at all actually Maysie, respectfully.

If one is for women's autonomy over their own bodies in recognition of the SCC decision then I do think the two are not only related, but deal with the very same issue at core.

Susan's question is one in which I would also like an answer for. This isn't about animosity or rival opinions. This is about choice. Full stop.

Sineed

I'd have to agree with Star: personal autonomy would include actions of which other women may disapprove.

G. Muffin

Susan Davis, please give it a rest.

There is, according to my more radical friends, a thing called psychiatric rape.  I don't use the term, myself, but I understand what it means.

Skdadl writes on this subject beautifully.  Look it up, if you wish.

Stay away from my private parts, including my mind.

susan davis

good bye rabbleEmbarassed

susan davis

......

Stargazer

That was totally uncalled for G. Pie. Susan didn't say anything about you or your mind nor attack you personally. She did not mention rape of any kind. Why the attack? It was unnecessary.

I bloody well hope she isn't leaving.

No one is trying to mess with anyone's "private parts".

Bacchus

Please don't leave Susan

G. Muffin

Stargazer wrote:

That was totally uncalled for G. Pie. Susan didn't say anything about you or your mind nor attack you personally. She did not mention rape of any kind. Why the attack? It was unnecessary.

I bloody well hope she isn't leaving.

No one is trying to mess with anyone's "private parts".

This thread has a specific topic.  Susan butted in and derailed it.  I didn't attack her; I respectfully asked her to leave my thread alone. Don't we have enough threads on her subject?  

I would consider mind a private part, but that's just me.  If you want to blame me for Susan's predictable flounce, by all means, fill your boots.  You can change your story but you can't change the facts.

Stargazer

This thread also has nothing to do with psychiatric rape, but you mentioned that. Clearly a thread derailment no? These narrow agenda's have to go.

G. Muffin

You have a point, Stargazer.  I might have been excessively over-protecting my thread.  If you read this, Susan, I apologize and hope we can just carry on.

 

 

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

Is it possible to discuss both secular and religious rights and values seperately, any more (or less) than it is to both empathize and judge, simultanously? Just as one may value certain rights, she may also have a right to certain values.  It depends on where one places the conditional (are there any absolutes, here?).  While I think it's important to understand how our rights and values originate and establish themselves, in both fact and law, I don't believe that they're mutually exclusive, even if most would disagrree.  Do we choose our entitlements (including the right to choose), or are certain individual rights inherent and inalienable, whereby choice is rendered moot?  How do we decide?  Can anyone enlighten here?

Maysie Maysie's picture

autoworker, your questions are interesting. 

I actually despise the discourse of "choice" at the theoretical level, but I'll get to that in a moment.

The language of "choice" in the North American context has been about women who seek abortions, for whatever reason, that they have the choice to continue the pregancy or to terminate the pregnancy. Terminating the pregnancy must happen in a safe, free and medically sound manner. To be clear, I completely and utterly support this framework, and access to abortion services.

In my view, however, this should not in fact be framed as a choice, but simply, as you've put it autoworker, a fact. "It's there for whoever needs it". In the Canadian context there is far more than "choice" at work however. Access, or lack of access to abortion counseling is a huge issue, as well as parental consent for minors, the age shifting rapidly from 16 to 18 to who the hell knows where it is now. As well as physical access for women in rural communities, women in provinces in which one or no hospitals will perform abortion procedures and so on. So in my view, choice, with respect to abortion, is only the tip of the iceberg.

Since the abortion debates of the 80s framed "choice" as the be-all and end-all, it's since been corrupted. Now women can say "I want botox, it's my body and my choice" with a straight face. Well, perhaps a strained tight face that can't smile for a few days. This, to me, is not the spirit of what "choice" meant.

The larger question is, are human rights up for debate or majority vote? I say no, since most of the time, history has demonstrated that the majority will vote for the status quo, and against the marginalized. Larger systemic understanding of inequalities and inequities, as practiced by grassroots activists, some brave and radical lawmakers, policy makers, and yes, the rare politician, is what changes our society. Abortion, and many other issues are framed as "social" or "moral" issues. At the systemic level they are not. In that way, "choice" is irrelevant.

autoworker autoworker's picture

Maysie:

I suppose my concern is with the entrenchment of Charter rights (notwithstanding the Notwithstanding Clause)  In that context I agree that choice should be irrelevent, but, as long as we allow our legistatures to override rights that should be guaranteed by the Constitution, then any rights issue will be open and vulnerable to political expediency. 

Overriding judicial Charter decisions leads us down a slippery slope where we risk creating a hierarchy of rights, dependent upon the the political contingencies of the moment. 

I agree that issues such as abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment should not be thrust into that environment, but, as long as the Charter is flawed by the Notwithstanding Clause, all rights are vulnerable, and remain a matter of political choice at the ballot box.

autoworker autoworker's picture

Addendum to last posting:  I should acknowledge that access to abortion is not a Charter right, nor does the fetus enjoy the status of a person under the Charter.  My point is that even with judicial clarification, rights, especially de facto ones, remain 'notwithstanding'.

MegB

This is a complex matter for me personally.  Politically, not so much.

The most slippery slope facing pro choice right now is the movement to include the death of an unborn child within homicide charges when a pregnant woman is killed. 

I understand the emotional side of the issue, and certainly if a woman is murdered and is at a point in her pregnancy that the fetus could live outside the womb, then I can see the ethical value of such a change in law.  However, those who would ban abortion outright would use this as a stepping stone to declaring a fetus a person with Charter rights. 

While I can't say I immediately reject the idea that a fetus has rights at some point, at which point does it grow from a potential human being to a human being?  Anti-choice advocates would say at the moment of conception.  I, on the other hand, would say that a collection of rapidly multiplying cells does not constitute a person, merely a potential person. 

I am, and always have been, pro choice.  To me, pro choice means not imposing one's individual values upon another when it comes to carrying a pregnancy to term or not.  But I am very strongly against abortions conducted past the first trimester, when there is no medical need (health of mother, rape, other extenuating circumstances), for many reasons - ethical and otherwise.  I know, later termination of pregancies are very rare, and more often than not involves a stillborn fetus or one that cannot possibly survive the entire gestation period.  Regardless, this is a personal issue, one that I would not impose upon another.

I'm also concerned that medical technology has extended the ability to keep fetuses born as early as 28-30 weeks gestation alive outside the womb.  I don't have any general objection to this, but our technology hasn't advanced to the extent that we can accomplish this without significant damage to the infant.  I feel that the advance of this particular life-saving branch of technology is done at the expense of the parents and their premature infants.  Yes, it's important to preserve life, when possible.  Yes, it's important to advance medical technology.  But at what cost?

I don't have definitive answers, and I suspect there are none.  But I think these issues are worthy of debate, at the very least.  Thoughts?

autoworker autoworker's picture

I wish we lived in a society where women would never feel compelled to terminate healthy pregnancies.  Is such a world possible?

Maysie Maysie's picture

I dunno autoworker, is a world in which the marginalized aren't exploited, in which racism and oppression don't run rampant, in which the poor are no longer blamed for the greediness of the bankers possible?

That's a very dicey question to ask in the feminist forum, in a thread about choice. Just letting you know.

Stargazer

autoworker wrote:

I wish we lived in a society where women would never feel compelled to terminate healthy pregnancies.  Is such a world possible?

 

I highly doubt it. Until the entire system changes and women are not second and third class citizens I doubt it. Ièm guessing that when men have the ability to get pregnant we will see more abortions not less. This is a womanès issue. I know men should have some involvement personally but in the grand picture it is us women who carry the baby for 9 months, then breastfeed, take the children to school, make sure their needs are taken care of, and on and on and on. Frankly we know we cannot rely on most men to help us out, even though they were involved so why should anyone have the right to remove the choice from us.

I still say that if men could get pregnant there would be no debate around abortions. None.

Summer

 

IMO, such a world will only be possible when birth control is 100% effective and available to everyone.  Until then accidents will continue to occur and some people will continue to choose abortion.  This includes women with money and good jobs and good spouses and good mat-leave policies available to them.  Some people just do not want babies. 

 

To answer G Pie's OP:  to me, being pro-choice means accepting (or even better, agreeing) that access to abortion is an important human rights issue and that each woman is individually free to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy or not.  It does not mean you have to like or agree with the choices other women make. 

Unionist

autoworker wrote:

I wish we lived in a society where women would never feel compelled to terminate healthy pregnancies.  Is such a world possible?

I wish we lived in a society where no person felt the need to believe in some bullshit divisive brain-deadening religion (which, in my personal opinion, describes all of them, to a greater or lesser extent). Is such a world possible?

Maybe, maybe not. In the meantime, we recognize, uphold, and fight unremittingly to defend each person's absolute freedom of conscience. We argue for or against ideas, but we never put in the slightest question individual rights which are sacred.

autoworker autoworker's picture

Maysie wrote:

I dunno autoworker, is a world in which the marginalized aren't exploited, in which racism and oppression don't run rampant, in which the poor are no longer blamed for the greediness of the bankers possible?

That's a very dicey question to ask in the feminist forum, in a thread about choice. Just letting you know.

I think you're addressing the obverse side of the same question.  As for the issue of choice, I think we agree that the term itself is problematic, in the sense that it is now an issue that is often discussed in isolation from the conditions that necessitate it.  If asking that question leads to a larger contextual analysis, then it may be worth the risk. 

If the original question is what is meant by pro-choice, my question is: in what context are women's individual decisions being made?  I'm not a psychiatrist, so I'm not trying to get into women's heads.  It's their externalities that I'm addressing.

In other words: what is to be done?

autoworker autoworker's picture

Unionist: I don't take individual rights for granted.  Either we have them or not, in law.   I believe that all argument is moot without that established fact.

remind remind's picture

autoworker wrote:
In other words: what is to be done?

 

Nothing from the position you are coming from

 

From position, woman's access to abortion/day after services and other health care services needs to be enhanced across the country.

Unionist

autoworker wrote:

Unionist: I don't take individual rights for granted.  Either we have them or not, in law.   I believe that all argument is moot without that established fact.

Well, you must be aware that the Supreme Court of Canada held in 1988 that a woman's right not to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term was guaranteed by Section 7 of the Charter:

Quote:
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

That's good enough for me, and indeed for Parliament, which has not tried to legislate restrictions on this right for the past 21 years.

So what, exactly, is the problem you're addressing?

 

yarg

I don't see what there is to debate, it's a womans right.

I am not 100 percent comfortable with all aspects of abortion, very late term abortions for reason other than the mothers safety being about the only one, but that really doens't happen anyway.  It also doesn't matter what does or deosn't bother me, its not any of my business, why can't we just leave it at that.  Im sick of the debate, and it wont ever be a decision i have to make, i can't imagine how tiring it must be for women, the decisions have been made, let it be.

autoworker autoworker's picture

Unionist wrote:

autoworker wrote:

Unionist: I don't take individual rights for granted.  Either we have them or not, in law.   I believe that all argument is moot without that established fact.

Well, you must be aware that the Supreme Court of Canada held in 1988 that a woman's right not to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term was guaranteed by Section 7 of the Charter:

Quote:
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

That's good enough for me, and indeed for Parliament, which has not tried to legislate restrictions on this right for the past 21 years.

So what, exactly, is the problem you're addressing?

 

The Notwithstanding Clause.

Red Tory Tea Girl

I always thought pro-choice meant that someone believed that what a person decided to do with their own body was completely their choice, no ifs ands or buts, so imagine my surprise wehen I found out that there were a lot of self-described radical feminists like Julie Bindel, Janice Raymond, and our very own Ghislane (I think using tra**ie when cis and to limit the definition of woman definitely applies,) seem to think that the only people who are allowed that agency are cis women. Trans men must obviously be deluded and we have to protect their womanhood despite their protestations that the only womanhood you see is the kind others have imposed upon them, and trans women? Well, we're not really women are we? Certainly we've never been raped, juggled around by a doctor who feels he knows our own body better than we do to the point of denying us the basic tools of transition or even blood pressure medication (for a 150 over 92 BP BTW, but that's my own story and your mileage may vary.)

I'm pro-choice, absolutely, always have been, since before I came out to myself, though I'm rather disturbed when pro-choice comes to mean cis women only... and only when they're terminating a pregnancy, but not when they're acting in a way you might not personally approve of but which physically (remember we're in a no-metaphor zone here, so my existence assaulting your sensibilities rings hollow...) assaults another person.

 

PS: I probably would have pointed this at the Lu's pahrmacy debate (which thankfully is over,) but those threads were closed.

Stargazer

I understand your points and I agree RTG but this thread is specifically about abortion.

Stargazer

I understand your points and I agree RTG but this thread is specifically about abortion.

Red Tory Tea Girl

Stargazer:

"I understand your points and I agree RTG but this thread is specifically about abortion."

G. Muffin, opening post of the thread, verbatim:

"I consider myself pro choice. Yet I'm sometimes rattled by stories I read and hear. So could somebody please articulate what "pro choice" means?"

 

Nowhere was abortion mentioned in the opening post. And I'm saying for some it means a cis-centered, definition of abortion only, which, in and of itself, has trans misogynistic and misandristic and ablist, (to name a few) implications.

Sineed

Quote:
 And I'm saying for some it means a cis-centered, definition of abortion only, which, in and of itself, has trans misogynistic and misandristic and ablist, (to name a few) implications.

Um, what?

remind remind's picture

OFFS

torontoprofessor

Actually, I disagree that this thread is specifically about abortion: it is specifically about the meaning of "pro-choice". I grant that, to a lot of babblers, "pro-choice" is about abortion. But some babblers have argued, here and elsehwhere, that the meaning of "pro-choice" has to do with something broader than the question of abortion: something along the lines of personal autonomy or control over one's own body. From this perspective, the issue of abortion is just one issue under a more general pro-choice umbrella of autonomy or personal bodily control.

Other issues then fall under this general pro-choice umbrella:  Does the state have any place interfering with the drugs I choose to ingest? Does the state have any place interfering with whether I get sex-reassignment surgery? (If not, should the state fund sex-reassignment surgery?) Does the state have any place interfering with whether I decide to sell or donate my organs? Does the state have any place interfering with whether I decide to provide sexual services for a fee? Of course, Canada does interfere in each of the above decisions, but one might ask whether Canada engages in inappropriate interference in my control over my own body.

Leftists disagree quite strongly about the above issues: we've witnessed that several times on babble. But it might be fruitful to think of abortion in the broad context of personal autonomy and control over one's own body, to see where the arguments lead.

That said, one might also have reasons to support choice on abortion for reasons other than personal autonomy: one might argue that abortion is a special case, where the state has a special reason to uphold personal autonomy and a special reason not to interfere with my decisions concerning my own body. Such an argument might leave room for state interference in other bodily decision, e.g., drug ingestion, organ donations/sales, sex work, etc.

Angella

The original post used the words 'pro-choice', but she did clarify later on that she meant it in terms of 'right to abortion'.

Angella

I guess I'm saying that a broader discussion about pro-choice would be useful and interesting, but it isn't what this thread was intended to be about. Maybe start another one?

Red Tory Tea Girl

From my reading she further went on to discuss abortion, and abortion almost exclusively, and I think, Angella, that underlines my point rather neatly and that there are very clear hypocracies in a construction of pro-choice to allow termination of pregnancy on demand, (which I strongly support) and then to argue against, among other personal decisions, hormonal transition on demand.

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