Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, October 18, 2018

Letter to the Editor: Women deserve support, not shame

Grace Arnpriester responds to pro-life column posted earlier this week

Letter to the Editor: Women deserve support, not shame

Generally, I enjoy reading opinion pieces which posit ideas or perspectives that I haven’t considered or do not agree with, but I was shocked and concerned with the ignorance and lack of respect for women facing unplanned pregnancies featured in a recent piece entitled “How the Cincinnati gorilla revealed society’s obsession with ‘choice.” It took a twisted and confusing path to reach its main point – essentially, that abortion is bad, and that women, except those who got pregnant from rape or incest, are to blame for choosing to have sex. Instead of advocating for cutting the number of unintended pregnancies, and thus helping to reduce the number of abortions through birth control or giving women better access to family planning services, the author victim-blames women who experience unintended pregnancy.

Women have abortions because they care about their health, their futures, their families and/or their future families. They face vastly different situations when it comes to unwanted pregnancy. The author of this piece asserts that these women prioritize their "personal convenience, financial instability or lack of maturity over a child’s life that they, more often than not, chose to create." The statement posits that these women chose to get pregnant and must deal with the consequences, when often, they did not. Even women who practice safe sex by using contraceptives can become pregnant. 1 in 11 women who rely on the pill become pregnant, and 1 in 6 get pregnant when they rely on condoms. These women do not choose for their birth control to fail them – to claim that they chose to get pregnant ignores this possibility of failure.

The statement also blatantly disrespects every woman's ability to recognize when bringing a child into the world would be irresponsible. Many women are living in places or situations that are not conducive to bringing a child into the world. The author makes it sound as though women who decide to abort for financial reasons are selfish, when the ability for a mother to provide for her child is incredibly important to that child's development, safety, and health. The sanctity of human life is not lost in this decision, it is upheld – these smart, strong, empowered women recognize when that baby would not be adequately cared for or protected.

Each situation is unique, and whether or not a woman decides to carry that pregnancy to full term is a result of extreme deliberation on her part. Studies show that this decision is motivated by many diverse and interrelated considerations including financial reasons, health concerns for either the mother or the baby or that she is not emotionally prepared to raise a child. And it is, and should be, her call. It is not the right of any other human, especially those who have never met her and cannot possibly understand every aspect of her situation, to make that decision for her. A woman’s right to an abortion protects her health, her dignity, her bodily autonomy and, in some cases, her life.

This careless opinion piece attempts to analogize a controversy over a gorilla’s death to a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, and winds up blaming women for their choice to have sex and the unintended results of that choice. A woman’s ability to choose, both to have sex and also to terminate an unintended pregnancy, is vital and should never be shamed.

Today, 125,000 women worldwide will make one of the toughest decisions of their lives. Instead of blaming them, we should support them.

Grace Arnpriester is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs.

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