Today marks the 34th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the ACLU of Pennsylvania thought we’d participate in NARAL Pro-Choice America’s “Blog for Choice” to reflect on why we’re pro-choice.
The ACLU has recognized that the right to privacy, which encompasses the right to reproductive freedom, is among our most important constitutional liberties and has been a principle defender of abortion rights since 1973 when U.S. Supreme Court recognized the right to choose in Roe v. Wade. Reproductive freedom means the right to make informed decisions about whether and when to become a parent without government interference and to access a broad range of reproductive health care including contraceptives, prenatal care, treatment for sexually transmitted disesase, and abortion.
While the ACLU identifies as pro-choice in constitutional terms, we realize that there are a number of other, sometimes much more personal, reasons why our staff, board members, volunteers, and members are pro-choice. Here are their reasons in their own words:
“I think I may be an odd duck. I’m Irish and Roman Catholic. I know that I could not ever have an abortion. I also know that I have no right to make that decision for someone else.” – Beth, age 44, King of Prussia
“I am pro-choice because I believe that women should be treated with dignity and respect and that in order for women to be equal to men they need to have the right and the means to decide when and whether to bear a child.” – Larry, age 51, Philadelphia
“I’m pro-choice because I am the only one who should determine the treatment of my body. I am pro-choice because a fetus is not a person, and therefore should have no bearing over a women’s choice, health, or life course. I am pro-choice because no individual’s religious beliefs should determine legislation.” – Shoshana Rosen, age 22, Pittsburgh, Jewish
“As a mother of two precious daughters and a grandmother of one beautiful brand new granddaughter, I am committed to the absolute protection of choice for my loved ones and for all women. A woman’s right to choose to carry a pregnancy or to not carry a pregnancy should be a decision that is hers to make. Young people should be provided with full and correct information regarding their personal health and wellness.” – Nancy, age 61
“I am pro-choice because 77% of anti-choice leaders are men and 100% of them will never become pregnant.” – Jamie, Harrisburg
“I am pro-choice because I believe that in a free society women can and must be trusted to make fundamental personal decisions. Anti-abortion laws cannot be enforced without allowing the government a totally intolerable level of intrusion into individual, private medical decisions and the doctor-patient relationship that would be incompatible with basic American values of liberty.” – Peter Goldberger, Ardmore, ACLU of PA Board of Directors, VP of ACLU Greater Philadelphia Chapter, father of 3 daughters
“When my mother and my sisters and I attended the March for Women’s Lives in 2004, my younger sister wondered why there were signs with pictures of coat hangers. She represents a younger generation of women who haven’t had to worry about back-alley, botched abortions and their frightening consequences. I am pro-choice for all the future generations of women, so that they, too, may not know the shadowy horrors of a life without reproductive freedom.” – Paula, Harrisburg
“Every woman has the right to control her own body and to determine when or whether to bear a child. Child bearing must always be by choice, not only for the sake of the mother but for the welfare of a wanted and nurtured infant. The hard-won right of choice in child-bearing by all women must be respected and protected.” – Sonya
“I am pro-choice because women should have every opportunity to live the life they choose to live and because options allow each women to subscribe to her own religious and social morality.” – Chelsea, age 22, Philadelphia
“The anti-choice messengers regularly remind me why I am pro-choice. Usually, those who are against us on reproductive freedom are white men, and when I see them, one word comes to mind. Patriarchy.” – Andy, Harrisburg
“I am pro-choice because I believe every woman should be trusted enough to make individual and personal decisions regarding her body without the interference of government. If another woman chooses to have an abortion, it’s none of my business and I would never be so arrogant to assume that I (or anyone else) have the right to make that decision for her. Against abortion? I promise, I will never make you have one.” – Amy, age 22, Philadelphia
“Being raise Catholic in the 1950s, as you can imagine, I was always what is referred to today as “pro-life.” However, “anti-choice” is what I prefer to call it today. Back then, I believed that no woman should ever have a right to terminate her pregnancy no matter what the reason; the time to decide not to get pregnant was before you had sex, not afterwards. I believed this until I was in my mid-forties when someone very near and dear to me confided in me that she was planning to terminate her pregnancy. I knew at that time I had to stop her. So, I turned to a few friends who were also Catholic, who I assumed they felt just as I did, to see if they had some magic words for me to use to stop this young lady. As it turned out, each one had experienced an abortion firsthand. I had no idea any of these beautiful women went through that experience as they had never shared it with me (and for good reason). They knew how I felt about it. These women are all very decent, loving, respected women. All have children of their own, all remain practicing Catholics–one, a Sunday school teacher. I left the Catholic Church in my late 20s but the ignorance remained with me for a long time following. I’ve come to learn that there are many reasons for women to choose to terminate a pregnancy–each has her own story. And, each deserves to have a clean, safe means to do so if she chooses. I’ve also learned through my involvement with NARAL that the majority of American women who choose to terminate a pregnancy are of a Christian-based religion. These women are our friends, neighbors, grandmothers, mothers, aunts, daughters, ministers, etc. hether we know it or want to believe it or not and they deserve respect.” – Anonymous in PA
“I am pro-choice for the same reason that I favor all individual liberty against government infringement. The Constitution confirms that “We the People” have all rights and we never gave the government the power to abridge any of those rights unless it can prove the absolute necessity for so doing. The right to choose whether to have children is a parade example of a right that government can never justify denying.” – Burton Caine, Professor of Constitutional Law
“I am pro-choice because I am pro-life. I don’t see being “pro-life” and “pro-choice” as opposites, as those opposed to abortion rights would argue. I value the lives of women, whether they choose to be mothers or not, and I think that children should be brought into this world when they can be cared for and loved in all the ways they deserve to be. With all of the children in poverty, being abused and neglected, it astounds me that those who call themselves “pro-life” devote the amount of resources they do to protecting a fetus when they could be saving the lives of children that are already born. But, you know, that’s their choice, isn’t it?” – Julie, age 25, Philadelphia
Please use the comment space to offer your own reasons why you are pro-choice (that is, if you are pro-choice). Click here to link to read about what else the ACLU is doing to facilitate discussion around reproductive rights for the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Julie in Philly