By Merrill Miller, Communications Intern
I have a confession to make: In my early teens, I was against abortion rights. I blame my misguided views on a conservative upbringing that never let me hear any argument other than, “abortion is murder.” However, late in high school and into college, when I became interested in feminism, I began seriously investigating the abortion issue. I realized that no one can really say when life begins, and women’s ability to make their own reproductive choices is central to women’s equality. The decision to start a family is extremely personal and the individual woman, not the government, should be able to decide when she should have a child. Every woman’s pregnancy is different, and only she can judge what course of action is best for her in that situation. The state has no right to intervene in such an intimate and personal experience.
At the 2010 National NOW Conference, there was a lot of discussion about women’s reproductive rights, which reminded me of why I’d decided to support abortion rights. I was particularly moved by a speech given by Dr. LeRoy Carhart, a late-term abortion provider from Nebraska. In his speech, Dr. Carhart shared stories of various patients he had treated. One woman experienced a pregnancy that had gone horribly wrong, and if she hadn’t had an abortion, she most likely would have died. Another woman, who had just started college, did not learn that she was pregnant until she was at the end of her second trimester. When she discovered that she was pregnant, she became suicidal. By providing these women with abortion care, Dr. Carhart effectively saved their lives. And these were just a few of the many women that Dr. Carhart has helped.
Throughout his speech, Dr. Carhart reiterated that the government should “trust women.” Instead of making laws that restrict women’s reproductive rights and dictate women’s actions regarding unwanted or complicated pregnancies, the state should trust these women to make the right decisions for their own lives and their own bodies. It should grant them the right to choose how to handle their own reproductive health.
I’m very grateful to people like Dr. Carhart, who defend women’s right to choose and provide them with the option of having late-term abortions. Until women have the right to determine what they will do with their own bodies, they will never be equal.