I deplore the terms “pro choice” and “pro life.” In fact, the entire debate angers me. Why do we have to debate the rights of women to do anything with their bodies? And why is it always the woman who has to be the one to make those choices? I would prefer to see a world where women and men are held accountable for their actions, but only if they were on an even playing field. In this instance, there is no even playing field. And everybody knows it.
The United States is unique among Western, industrialized nations, in that a stream of old Puritanical sentiment runs rampant through it like a river overflowing its banks. We, as a nation, have paranoia about sex; on one hand, we uphold rigid standards in our media and our public lives, disallowing certain words and acts from being talked about or portrayed on screen or over the airwaves. We police our public schools to excess, preventing children from taking part in any meaningful discussion (led by an adult in the classroom) concerning sexual behavior and responsibility. We pass public ordinances against strip bars, triple X venues, and gambling, and yet there are certain regions where these establishments are legion.
Women are held to a higher standard, still. We are expected to police the actions of men and hold them at bay, and hold out for marriage before “giving in.” And yet, everybody knows that this is an unrealistic view. Sex is as much a part of real life as eating, sleeping, and elimination. We put going to the bathroom and sex in the same category – hidden and shameful – even though both are perfectly natural behaviors. So it is no surprise that in this climate, the results of both are seen as undesirable among “decent” people. Think about it: a woman is forced to take a man to court to collect child support when he decides to run. Unless she is on public assistance, she can expect no help in that regard. And public assistance is doled out in a miserly fashion to women who have children out of wedlock. Our public policies are built around forcing a woman to have accountability, but not the man. And we are big into preventing that woman from terminating her pregnancy before it culminates in a child who is left on the public’s doorstep to support.
Certain people, to get what they want, also use sex as a weapon. Because of our puritanical society, men often prey upon their victims by lying and coercion. Our laws have evolved to protect the underage person from sexual conduct by an older person. And date rape, including the use of drugs, is considered a felony. But what about the person who is in a diminished capacity for other reasons, perhaps temporarily, and falls under the spell of a Casanova or a temptress, and engages in sex willingly, only later to realize they were used? There are no truly good laws to protect that person from the consequences of such acts. However, I do believe that this will change in the future. With the advent of Internet dating and the preponderance of people who lie about their true identities, I expect to see some test cases come up in the future regarding these acts. People should be protected, legally, from such predators.
With all this in mind, how can we truly support laws that prohibit women from having the right to abort an unwanted child? And how can we continue to not hold people accountable for their actions? In a truly advanced society, such issues should not exist.