As Americans we affirm that every person has certain rights. The Declaration of Independence refers to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To respect these rights in the case of every person constitutes a fairly well acknowledged moral system in America, and it is one which, like any other moral system, there arise conflicts of obligation.
Back in my dimly remembered younger days, I did some things that I repent, and some that I regret. They do not all match up. It comes from the bottom of my heart to say that at no time did I intend to surrender my personal sovereignty except by agreement, my right to refuse in matters of my private life, nor any other of the prerogatives that make me a human being. In addition, please understand this well, I had absolutely no intention of alienating my inalienable right to pursue happiness.
A relevant part of my younger days are a few affairs that I neither repent nor regret. I guess I could have skipped that part, but if I had skipped it, I would have missed it. Each of the women involved was a unique person that I liked a lot and respected. It comes from the bottom of my heart to say that none of these women intended to forsake her precious, inalienable right to pursue happiness. If any of them ever took human life in order to preserve that right for herself, I understand, and would support her unreservedly. Each of these women gave me something unique that contributed to my growth, my humanity, my self esteem, and my happiness. I fervently hope that I gave that much in return, and added to the self-esteem and happiness of each of my young-adulthood lovers.
I believe in a woman’s right to refuse in matters of her private life. I will defend with my life any woman’s right to refuse to enter into a marriage that is forseeably intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually degrading for her. I will likewise defend a woman’s right to depart from a marriage that has become so. I will defend a woman’s right to refuse to live in poverty and shame, unwillingly tied by unintended obligations to unwished-for dependents. I likewise defend a woman’s right to refuse to grow another human being inside her to be brought up to think of her as trash. I believe in a woman’s right to refuse to give birth. I affirm the personal sovereignty of women.
We’re not really that far apart from these “pro-life” people. Both sides affirm that a woman has the right to decide whether or not to have sex. Both sides affirm that a woman has the right to decide whether or not to have babies. The difference is that while they see one choice, we see two. They see people as intrinsically evil; we believe that people only do evil from ignorance, and extremes of frustration. They see pre-marital sex as “whoring around.” We see it as an often necessary stage of women and men getting to know each other as people. They see extra-marital sex as adultery. We see extra-marital sex as adultery. We are not really that far apart.
With that in mind we now have a way to be more honest with each other than we have been. We need no longer identify ourselves as “pro-choice”, and our opponents as “anti-choice.” Neither do our opponents need to call themselves “pro-life” and us “pro-abortion.” Neither is there any need to get personal; I’ll only drop names like Mc Cary, Martino, Swaggart, Bakker, and Keating to bring us to dispense with that. We can settle our differences in a fair dispute over the right issue. Let us call ourselves onesies and twosies.
This is the true issue. We twosies believe in a woman’s right to have sex as often as she wants to, and can find a willing partner, and not have babies. We have heard the rhetoric that abortion isn’t birth control. We have also heard the rhetoric that all birth control is abortion. We also know the real-life and medical realities that everyone is sometimes driven to their last resorts. Regrettably, for us all, we twosies can only be satisfied with the ultimate protection of our privacy, which is Roe v. Wade. Only that ultimate protection is sufficient to guard every woman’s right to pursue happiness.
I am also not above expressing a profound distrust of the other side with respect to women who choose other options for dealing with unwanted pregnancy. There is not adequate protection for women who carry to term against parental or spousal abuse, nor against discrimination in the workplace. There is no provision made by the state to protect those who want raise children and remain independent. Even maternity leave for those women who want to bear children and have their jobs back was vehemently opposed by those who find abortion so abominable. No wonder we see our opponents as leaving only one choice open to women, celibacy or dependency. If one of those options always worked, we wouldn’t be having this problem.
God made people one at a time. For those of us who believe that the word “people” includes women, this means we must allow women the freedom to deal with those problems that arise because they are women. Some will choose celibacy. Some will choose marriage. Some will choose otherwise, and, whether legal or not, some will choose abortion.
Sex, though a basic drive is supposedly voluntary. Again, let us try to rethink. If anyone does not eat for a month or two, he or she will die. The semi-clinical environment of a hunger strike may lengthen that time, arduous conditions may shorten it, but the general idea stands. Now I’ll ask a question that I hope you’ll answer honestly, at least to yourself: How long could you go without sex without losing a job, getting divorced, or committing a mass murder? If you give an answer of over a month or two, you are an exceptional person. If you truthfully give such an answer you are even more exceptional. Now let me ask you some more questions: If there is enough room in this world for there to be another child born per couple per couple per year, where is the employment to feed them? Where is the education they need in order just to understand what is required of them? Where is the very land on which they will live?
We are not that far from Bangladesh. In fact, by air, land, and sea, no place is more than a couple of days away. I have never been to Bangladesh, but Rand McNally has. It is the most crowded place on earth, with 1500 people per square mile. It has less than ten percent literacy, is less than ten percent urban, and has a life expectancy of less than forty years. What a life! Thirty something years of being crowded to the edge of one’s nerves, and living and perpetuating oneself on stoop labor. Onesies call this a life. I do not. Onesies claim that this is our just deserts for wanting to remain physically and mentally healthy during our time in this world. I do not. Onesies ask that we trust them, or their Lord, while living conditions in much of the world steadily decline, even while living conditions for people in America steadily decline. I do not.
Roe v. Wade places the burden of responsible population control squarely where it belongs: on the individual women. It is not a limit on the number of children a couple may have, as is done in China. Neither is it a system of enforced isolation and subjugation of women, as is practiced in some Muslim countries. There is abundant evidence that both of these systems of repression were brought about by over- population. There is not, nor will there be, any law against a couple having fourteen children if that is what that couple wants to do. There is, however, a law of sorts, a national consensus, that says that regardless of a woman’s circumstances, she should never be forced into or trapped in that role; that a wife is a man’s partner rather than his property; that a woman should be exactly the mother that she wants to be, of the children that she thinks she can raise conscienciously, and no more. This consensus is inevitable and correct, and should it be overridden by trickery and violence, I am confident that it will re-emerge. As a twosie, and member of the most-the-time majority, I ask for your help in upholding the self- ownership of women. For the self- ownership of every person is the ultimate moral consideration.