Why I’m ‘pro-choice’

Shae Slaughter

There are certain topics that seem to get people’s blood boiling. These are the types of topics that can cause protests, destroy political careers or even lead to violent crime. These topics are surrounded by so much passion that there is very little room for compromise. One of these topics is abortion. 

As long as I have been able to form an opinion on the subject of abortion, I have considered myself to be “pro-choice.” This is definitely an unpopular opinion in the conservative area that Grand Valley State University resides in. My junior year of college, I lived on the east side of Grand Rapids, and every day that I would drive along Fulton Street to go to the Pew Campus, I would pass anti-abortion demonstrators protesting on the sidewalk. Being an advocate of free speech and opinions, I drove by without uttering a word. That is their choice, their belief and their right.

However, as time passed, women’s health care continued to be questioned, Planned Parenthood was set to be defunded and the number of signs encouraging adoption grew. These protests began to wear on me, and I began to feel even more passionately about my own beliefs.

As a woman, I believe in nothing more than the right to control my own body. It perplexes me that a legislature controlled overwhelmingly by men—80 percent to be exact—gets to decide what women do and don’t need. As I acknowledged these differing opinions and this congressional makeup, it occurred to me that there is a difference between being “pro-life” and “pro-birth.” 

Though pro-life is the most commonly coined term, it is really pro-birth supporters who have a flawed logic. I might be able to support the pro-life philosophy if it meant fantastic women’s health care, both prenatal and postpartum. I could support it if it meant access to contraception and guaranteed adoptions. I could support this idea if each baby born were from a consensual sexual encounter to willing and able parents. But in the end, these are just a lot of “ifs.”

In reality, Planned Parenthood reported that a 2010 survey showed more than one-third of women struggled to pay for their birth control at some point in their life. I know this to be true because last time I switched my insurance company, my birth control pills skyrocketed to $120 for a one-month prescription. If a woman became pregnant because of this inaccessibility, the costs would only get higher for her. 

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project reported that the average hospital delivery is around $3,500 per stay. If a woman is forced to give birth, it is important to note that as of 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported 49,440 children under the age of five waiting to be adopted, which means her baby’s chance of adoption isn’t all that high. 

This makes many pro-life supporters actually pro-birth. They denounce abortions because they want the fetus to be brought to full-term, but they aren’t so concerned with what happens to it once it’s out of the woman’s body. They want the woman to put the baby up for adoption, but they aren’t necessarily willing to adopt the baby themselves. They might want the baby to live, but they probably don’t want to pay the taxes associated with the foster care and welfare systems that the baby will likely need to rely on for at least part of its life.

This is not meant to be a blanket statement because there is a large variety of individuals who are anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights. No two are the same, which means that no argument that I make holds true to each and every person. However, it is important to acknowledge these connections. 

I wish that things could be different, I really do, but these are the cold, hard facts. Thirty percent of women have an abortion by the time they turn 45, according to Planned Parenthood. Is this because they are cold-hearted baby killers? Absolutely not. 

The pregnancy could threaten the woman’s health. The woman could have been sexually assaulted. The woman could be financially unstable. These women have their reasons, but in reality, their reasons aren’t really anyone else’s business, and as a woman, I will continue to support our right to choose.