Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day 23- 37 years

Today we recognize the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which affirms every woman’s fundamental constitutional right to choose whether to have an abortion, as well as each American’s right to privacy from government intrusion. I have, and continue to, support these constitutional rights.

I also remain committed to working with people of good will to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and families, and strengthen the adoption system.

Today and every day, we must strive to ensure that all women have limitless opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

Dear Mr. President,

The night of the final debate between you and Senator McCain was the night I knew you were a different kind of politician. What struck me was the way you reminded every one, very calmly, that no matter how unapologetic you or any one might be in their support for Roe V. Wade, "no one is pro-abortion." The power of this moment was lost, of course, in Senator McCain's response, which involved air-quotes around "women's health" as though women across the nation were inventing life-threatening prenatal complications in order to score late-term abortions. My appreciation for your words was lost in my disgust at Senator McCain, but your words kept coming back to me, in the days following.

5 years ago, I made a choice. Knowing what I know now, knowing how that choice has haunted me, redefined me, in many ways, broken me, I don't think I would make the same choice, again. I was 18, and I was scared, and I was desperate. I know, for sure, that the law would not have stopped me. I could have gone to a safe, sterile clinic, or I could have gone somewhere else. I wasn't making this choice because I thought it was the right one, I wasn't making it because I thought, at all. I was making it because a person I thought mattered more than all else, told me it was the only way. I'm not blaming him, I'm blaming myself for valuing this man above my own health and safety and survival. For valuing him above all reason or logic.

In the end, of course, he left me. In the end I was alone, as I had always been. And while this decision may haunt me, the question of its morality settled so decidedly in my mind, its legality protected me from truly terrible consequences. The law cannot protect me from regret and self-reproach, but it can, and did, protect my health and safety. It is, once again, about Elizabeth Cady Stanton's solitude of self. The law that protects this decision protects a woman when she is the most alone. When she cannot count on any one, not her family, not her lover, and certainly not the men who govern her, to help.

I know both the desperation of being so young and so scared, and the ache of having surrendered your better judgment to another. So no matter what choice I would make now, I feel physically ill to think of that choice ever again being made for me or for any woman, by men like Senator McCain. This is why your manner in the debate was so inspiring. Not because you agree with me, but because you did not allow the debate to be taken from you and redefined. You did not allow Senator McCain to paint your beliefs as shameful or craven. You did not surrender the dignity of your position and of those that share it. So thank you for that.

37 years ago the courts defined the limits of their jurisdiction to be the boundaries of a person's body. It comforts me to know that you agree.

Respectfully yours,


No comments:

Post a Comment