My turn: Pro-choice, pro-woman

Posted: Monday, February 04, 2008

I am writing to comment on the recent "pro-life" demonstrations and proposed developments in regards to women's human rights here in Alaska. As a woman I am very concerned that the focus regarding a woman's "right to choose" has been taken off of the health, safety and reproductive rights of the woman and has been shifted to religious opinions, biases and a focus on the fetus' "rights."

I am pro-choice, because I am pro-woman. I am against a religion's beliefs being incorporated into legislation because, thank God, we live in a country where the phrase "separation of church and state" actually occurs in formal government documents. I also believe that men and women should be allowed to make their own reproductive decisions, and that a woman should be prized more highly than any fetus she might be carrying.

First, please realize that the first decision that you are making by being "pro-life" has nothing to do with an embryo. The first choice you are making is saying that you think it is OK for a government to tell you what you can and cannot do with your own body. Now, it should be no surprise that women's bodies were the first choice to have governmental controls placed on them. Let us not forget that it was less than 100 years ago when the government legally admitted that we might be smart enough to vote. But men, let's say the government set their sights on your bodies next? Now, as men don't have a womb and therefore cannot directly relate to this specific subject, I tried to find a male correlation. But there really isn't one for the 18-plus years of mandatory motherhood that the pro-lifers are trying to get legislatively mandated for women. Perhaps the closest is 18 consecutive years of forced military service?

We all apparently need to look back to one of the realities that caused the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision to go the way that it did. It was in part because thousands of American women were butchered and died from back alley abortions because qualified medical personnel were legally barred from performing them. We simply cannot forget that not only did the Supreme Court's 1973 decision protect women's 14th Amendment rights for privacy, but that it has also saved countless women's lives in the following years. I have actually heard pro-lifers say, "Well those women deserved to die because they were trying to kill their children." If you also think this, then how pro-life are you actually, or are you just pro-child? And secondly, when did your God make you his judge, jury and executioner?

Please, think seriously about the bigger picture here, and keep your religious beliefs out of legislation and your dogmatic legislation off of my body. If we keep giving away our choices and rights, maybe the next piece of legislation that either the state of Alaska or the federal government decides to pass regarding our bodies will be forced sterilization if one's IQ, salary or ethnicity doesn't meet their requirements.

Oh wait, no. That could only happen in 1930s Nazi Germany.

• Kathy Miller is a Juneau resident.

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