There’s lots to comment upon this week—especially as the primaries start stacking up (McCain in South Carolina say what?!)—but in honor of the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, January 22nd has been designated by NARAL Pro-Choice “blog for choice” day (there are other ways to commemorate as well). We’re all supposed to address the question of why it’s important to vote pro-choice. For this endeavor, I interviewed my roommate and feminist partner in crime, Molly. We’re definitely both loud and proud pro-choicers, but we bring different baggage to the table. (Come by some night when we discuss religion—it’s always a barn burner.)
The first thing I want to mention is, admittedly, slightly less academic and a little more personal—but the personal is the political, right? I really don’t like the way the anti-choice right has managed to change from a fringe coalition to a front and center movement. I resent it. And I resent that people—mostly women, but not only—are so used in the process. It’s profoundly unethical, I think, and it’s doubly wrong when put into the service of making the far anti-choice right palatable.
But I digress. Molly and I discussed our first initial reactions to the question, “Why is it important to vote choice?” Molly’s vote is an expression of her deep conviction that people in America have a pathologically fearful relationship with women’s agency. I vote pro-choice with the idea foremost in my mind that choice is yet another battlefield in the war to maintain the separation of church and state. Not that we don’t agree with each other—I feel very strongly that choice is a human right, and please see above barn-burner reference for a clue as to Molly feels about the Religious Right. But our answers were our gut reactions, and they ended up revealing more about us.
Molly’s answers, and her line of thinking, can be summed up in her well-honed phrase: “I don’t think women can be equal partners in society if we don’t have control over our bodies.” Extremely true. But as queer woman, I’m less worried about an accidental pregnancy. For me, there was the galvanizing experience of learning that Jewish law permits abortion. But even stronger than that, there’s an absolute love of the separation of church and state—I’ve been reading too much Jewish history not to feel that way. So while Molly—brilliantly, might I say—is dedicated to changing people’s minds about the topic of choice, I am more concerned with what’s on the big black books in Washington, D.C. She’s got the long view and I’ve got the short view. Neither one is wrong, and used in conjunction, they should work quite nicely for ensuring women’s right to choose.
So vote pro-choice. We say so.
–Mel Weiss with Molly Theobald