Last year, NARAL asked Pro-Choice folks around the world to blog about their hopes for the Obama campaign. This year the topic is "What does ‘Trust Women’ mean to you?" in honor of the button Dr. Tiller wore. I had a NARAL Trust Women wristband until it mysteriously vanished when I took it off to shower, but I wore it with pride.
Trust Women, to me, means that as a society, we have to trust women to make their own decisions. If one finds abortion troubling from a moral standpoint, one has to trust that no woman is frivolously subjecting herself and her body to a medical procedure, but we also have to trust that whatever she deems just cause is valid.
This might be as simple as "I don’t ever want children" or "I can’t support a baby right now" or "My birth control failed." It could be as wrenching as a genetic or developmental issue that renders a fetus unviable. It could be as frightening as "This would endanger my life." It could be as life-altering as "I was raped." "I’m a survivor of incest." "My partner is abusive." Or "I’m a teenager." Or another reason I haven’t thought of because it hasn’t been part of my experience, first-hand or second- or third- or read-on-a-blog-hand. But I trust that no woman is going to get an abortion for no reason.
I also believe that women can be trusted with accurate information in their doctors offices and sex ed classrooms. Tell women the truth about contraception, conception, STDs, abortion procedures, birth control and the realities of parenting, and I trust that each woman will come to the right decision for her. Forcing a woman who has already decided upon abortion to look at an ultrasound of her uterus and listen to a description of the dividing cells therein is wildly unethical – I trust that a woman looking for reasons to change her mind will find them.
I would really really like for we, as a society, to stop judging women for taking actions concerning her bodily autonomy. Period.
Stop shaming, stop protesting Planned Parenthood, stop passing legislation publishing names of women who have had abortions, or making insurance coverage for a standard medical procedure difficult to acquire. Stop prolonging the disparity between men’s access to reproductive healthcare and women’s. Stop assuming that having an abortion will OMG Ruin Your Life. Stop assuming that an abortion is something to recover from overnight. Some women grieve, some women don’t, no matter how secure and certain they were in their decision-making.
Trusting Women means that I don’t feel the need to get involved in their personal decisions, because I don’t think I know better. I know I’m not coming from a morally superior standpoint just because I haven’t had to make a difficult decision like whether or not to continue a pregnancy yet.
I know that there’s a big honking "YET" at the end of that sentence. And I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for the generations of women who fought for my rights, my right to vote, to work, to learn, to choose.
Grateful for the men who support choice and Trust Women in ways big and small.
And I’m grateful for the women in my life who made sure I knew what my choices were, and helped me make them when I needed to.