Reproductive Rights

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I don’t see how anyone could go from being a Hillary supporter to being a Palin one. If you were for Hillary, I would assume that you were also for the things that she is for and against the things that she is against. If you are for women’s rights, especially women’s reproductive rights, how could you be for Palin–or John McCain, for that matter?

Maybe there are some women who don’t particularly care one way or another whether they retain full rights over their own bodies. Maybe they were for Hillary just because she was a woman and when she lost out, it was easy for them to transfer their loyalties to another woman. If that is true, then the charge that some women cared more about their candidate’s sex than her politics is a true one.

I wanted Hillary to win the Democratic nomination and I wanted to see her in the White House. Sure, I was excited about the idea of a woman achieving all of that. But I didn’t vote for her just because she was a woman. I agree with her views and have confidence in her experience. Sarah Palin is a light-weight by comparison.

Some people excuse Palin’s lack of experience by saying that she doesn’t have to have as much experience as the presidential candidate, because she’s not going to be President, after all. But she could be. That’s the point. So could John McCain! Do feminists really want their President to be against their full rights as human beings?

I wrote in my last post that feminists are for full equality for women and in my opinion, that includes reproductive rights. If men could get pregnant, you betcha they would protect their right to have abortions. But they can’t get pregnant; only women can (not counting the man who recently gave birth–and reproductively, he was a woman). And men are not used to not being in control of everything a woman does.

Being pro-choice doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re pro-abortion. Having an abortion is a sticky issue even for those of us who are pro-choice. It’s about women having the right to call the shots. They are the ones who are going to bear the consequences in their own bodies. No man–or woman–should have the right to force a woman to have a baby.

If McCain and Palin had their way, that’s exactly what would happen. And in some cases they would effectively force a woman to give that baby up for adoption, because they also want to cut welfare payments to single mothers. (Although it’s interesting that no one has brought up that issue in this presidential campaign.) Or, even worse, force a woman to enter a marriage that may be counter to her best interests

Palin claims to be a feminist (she is a member of Feminists for Life), but I don’t see how she can be and be unequivocably against abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. She has a right to hold that view personally, but not to impose it on all the women in this country. It’s easy for her to say that she’s anti-abortion: she’s not the mother who will have to tell her child that his father was a rapist–or his grandfather or uncle!

If Palin and other anti-abortionists/pro-lifers were really consistent they would be against abortion even to save the life of the mother. Their argument isn’t about equal rights. Their efforts are squarely on the side of the child-to-be; they believe he or she has more rights than the mother-to-be. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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