Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blog for Choice 2013: Piece of Plastic

Morgan, Guest Blogger (Boston University School of Medicine '15, Medical Students for Choice)
This post is part of Blog for Choice, launched by Boston Students for Sexual and Reproductive Justice (BSSRJ).

This morning, I paid $500 for a piece of plastic about the size of my thumb, and I am happy about it. Before I was allowed to buy it, I had to walk past a woman chanting slogans at me: “abortion is murder” and “don’t kill your baby.” Her car was parked behind her, and taped to the side of it were signs reading “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart,” “Take my hand, not my life,” and “It’s a Boy.” I had to enter the clinic through a metal detector, removing my belt, allowing the security guard to search my bag, being checked again with a handheld wand, and was finally allowed entry, through a two door secure entry hallway with electronic locks, to a waiting room with a wall 10 feet high blocking the windows. But now, at last, after making the decision months ago, I have an IUD, a tiny piece of plastic that will keep me from becoming pregnant for the next 5 years.

40 years ago, Roe v. Wade was decided in favor of the right of women to obtain safe, legal abortions, and yet…

When a man wants to practice responsible contraception he can obtain free condoms from college dorms, health clinics, hospitals, and other sources, he can buy them without talking to anyone, he can buy as many as he wants with no prescription, and no age limit is imposed

When a woman wants to practice responsible contraception, she is faced with paying for a prescription medication or device. She must see a clinician, and she will be asked personal questions about her health, her lifestyle, her sexual habits, her partners. She will be asked her age, and judged for it. If she fails to do this and so does her partner (or their contraceptive device fails them) then she must go to a doctor or a pharmacist, explain that she needs emergency contraception, and pray that it works. But they’ll only give it to her if she is 18.

I am happy that Roe v. Wade passed. I am happy that women coming to clinics like the one I visited today have the option to obtain a safe, legal abortion. But I am pro-choice, not pro-abortion. Abortion is not something to celebrate, because it is something that can be prevented, something that women do not want. It is something they are forced to as a last option by a system that fails them, makes contraceptive choices expensive and humiliating, and then judges them for it. I’m happy that abortion is an option, but mostly I’m happy with my $500 piece of plastic, because of the choices I won’t have to make.  Roe v. Wade is one step in the right direction, but 40 years later, we still have a long way to go.

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