Friday, January 22, 2010

Blog For Choice 2010

In college, I worked for 9 months at NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, where I learned more about the reproductive rights movement and myself than I ever imagined possible. Today is the 37th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Roe V. Wade, which arguably remains the most divisive and famous (or infamous, depending on perspective) decision in our nation's history.

Today is also Blog for Choice Day. NARAL Pro-Choice America's blogging prompt this year is: What Does Trust Women Mean to You?

Trusting women means giving access.

Schools should teach a comprehensive sex education curriculum where children learn age-appropriate lessons about their bodies, reproductive organs, the risks associated with all sexual behavior, and the wide-range of preventative contraceptive methods. Last, they should be taught about all the legal choices that are available if you encounter an unplanned pregnancy. Responsible choices begin with access to information.

Next, we must trust women by giving access to preventative reproductive options. Free condoms, Plan B over the counter, affordable birth control methods for women with and without insurance, and the end of pharmacists who exercise their "conscience" only when it comes to women's health. Trust women to make good choices about their sexual activity by widening access to pregnancy tests, STD screenings, pre-natal care, and general gynecological check-ups. Prevention of unplanned pregnancies and STDs begins with access to healthcare.

Unplanned pregnancies are not 100% preventable. Women may have a predisposition to getting pregnant (read: Fertile Myrtle) and even after taking precautions, they may find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. In these situations, there needs to be access to both information and healthcare again. Unbiased medical research should be available to women who ask for it. Women should be able to discuss their options frankly with a counselor, but should not be required to do so. This is the most important time to trust women. If they decide that they do not want to continue with the pregnancy, they should be given an option to terminate within a reasonable time frame and reasonable distance from their homes. If they decide to continue with the pregnancy, they should also be given resources on the upcoming 9 months and beyond. Our current laws, which allow organizations to coax women into keeping a baby only to ignore their plights when the child is born, are as devastating as any other crack in our broken health system.

At this point, abstinence-only education and the decrease of access to reproductive healthcare has only led to sky-rocketing rates of STDs and teen pregnancy. Ignoring sex and the inherent dangers that come along with it isn't working. Trust women with access to information and healthcare, and then trust them to make the right decisions for themselves when they are granted this access.