When all is said and done, the biggest issue facing any developed nation today with respect to what is referred to as “reproductive rights” is shaming. Regardless of whether a country instates policies and laws that protect the ability of a person to choose how they are going to approach their reproduction, or lack thereof, the fact is people will attempt to shame them for whatever choice they make.
Seriously people, it’s none of your business what choices people (male or female) make about what to do with their own bodies. As far as I’m concerned, if you would like to avoid birth control for whatever reason, go for it. If you want to try every method of birth control known to man, have fun. If at some point you decide to have an abortion, I hope it’s a simple adventure for you. If you decide not to, again, I hope all goes well. If you then decide you want to have a “traditional” hospital birth, have at it. If you’d rather try a home birth, fabulous. If you want to be sterilized and not have to deal with any of that business, I wish you all the best.
From experience, though, I know that this is not the stance most people take. Whatever decisions I’ve made for whatever reason, people–sometimes complete and utter strangers–have felt the need to voice their opinions on how whatever I’ve done at times is WRONG, EVIL, ATROCIOUS, and otherwise not the decision I should be making. It goes well beyond the whole babies aspect of things–I have a need to take hormonal birth control for medical reasons. At a completely healthy weight and body fat percentage, my body doesn’t produce enough estrogen. Any time I’ve gone off hormones for any length of time, I really feel it. I get more aggressive and testy, my hair gets thinner, I have less ability to concentrate, and so on.
Even in light of a valid medical reason, seemingly sensible people have expressed disdain over my choice to be prescribed and use hormones that happen to have a side effect of preventing ovulation and other reproductive changes, thereby making pregnancy an unlikely event. Furthermore, regardless of a genuine medical need, it’s my choice. You have absolutely no reason or right to impose your shame over personal health choices on me. You choose whatever works for you, for whatever reasons you like, but in no way does that extend to me.
The fact that this whole aspect of existence as a human in 2010 is even an issue is testament to how (the ultimately patriarchal) Western society has determined that people (especially women) can’t be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies. The fact that there even needs to be legislation written and enacted in order to (marginally, depending on where) enable access to various reproductive options is absolutely ridiculous. It shouldn’t be a question–the options should just be there for people to take advantage of as they see fit for themselves. If any legislation should exist it should be to have unbiased information on all options a mandatory part of education curricula in order to allow everyone to make these personal decisions on their own in an intelligent, informed manner.
Fortunately, I’m a self-assured person. People can shame and degrade me all the livelong day for making certain choices and it won’t change the fact that I’m going to do what I think is right for me. When I was accosted by a woman outside a clinic who mistakenly assumed I was there for an abortion pleaded with me, “Don’t kill your baby!” I proudly responded with, “I don’t have a baby,” which is about the most fabulous response anyone could have to such abuse–even if I was there for an abortion, I still wouldn’t have had a baby, let alone be “killing” it.
And honestly, I’m glad I’m able to keep it that way if the possibility is something I have to consider, and I’d appreciate it if you’d mind your own business and let me continue to confidently make decisions on my own about my life.