Being young and mostly coming from privileged backgrounds, it’s easy for many college students at UR to not realize how much they stand to lose if they are stripped of reproductive rights in the upcoming election. Since none of us were born before 1973, it’s difficult to understand how much is actually at stake.
Many college students at UR regard their decision to start a family as an irreversible right and do not recognize how easy access to condoms, birth control, emergency contraception and abortion could be restricted. However, every one of these rights is being attacked and is at great risk of being taken away.
We often take for granted the options we have, without realizing the connections between those rights and other rights that are at stake in the election. A limitation on women’s rights could have a large effect on many issues in American life, so this issue is hugely important to all of our individual rights.
Until the mid-20th century, American society has regarded women solely as family figures. This changed with the efforts of a struggle fought by many women and men before our time. College students today have advanced in society because of this movement, which gave families the ability to plan when or when not to have children.
However, while many of us enjoy the benefits of the successes of the movement, such gains are under constant attack.
Ironically, many women who identify as pro-life profit from the availability of family planning services because these options guarantee these pro-life individuals a better place in society.
Without such options, women would still principally be regarded as members of the family and little else.
Abortion is a very complicated topic for many individuals, which is why the pro-choice movement defines itself in terms of choice.
Being pro-choice does not force decisions on anyone, but guarantees options for those who acquire services.
Being pro-choice defends the right to the access of all forms of family planning services, including condoms, birth control and comprehensive medically accurate sex education.
Being pro-choice protects the right of every individual to decide what’s best for her in regards to starting a family.
Roe v. Wade stands one Supreme Court justice away from being overturned, emergency contraceptive is still only sold ‘behind-the-counter,” birth control prescriptions may not have to be filled due to a pharmacist’s or doctor’s personal beliefs and publicly funded abstinence-only sex education continues to exaggerate the failures of condoms.
Limiting reproductive rights places women’s health in an extremely precarious position. While referring to women’s health in last week’s debate, Senator John McCain said, ‘That’s the extreme pro-abortion position, quote, “health.'”
At a university affiliated with a major medical center, most UR students would agree that there should be nothing extreme about supporting the health of women.
According to the logic expressed by McCain, both reproductive rights and women’s health are extreme because of their emphasis on the individual rights of women. In this example, the morality of some transcends the rights of the individual, regardless of the involved woman’s personal beliefs, circumstances and health.
Most politicians across the spectrum place an emphasis on individual choice in their political platforms on many issues, the major exception being reproductive rights and women’s health.
For example, in discussing his education plan, McCain endorsed the school voucher system, emphasizing the right of parents to decide which schools are best for their children.
Similarly, McCain emphasized choice in his health care plan, advocating for an individual right to choose doctors and other health care providers. McCain is pro-choice throughout his whole platform except when it comes to reproductive health.
When one votes against choice, one is voting against accurate sex education, the right to get birth control, the right to emergency contraception and the right to get an abortion, which control one’s ability to start a family when he or she feels ready.
It’s important for college students to recognize this connection between individual freedoms and the right to freely choose abortion. By restricting women’s access to reproductive rights, college students lose access to many other rights.
The foundation of our democratic society is the sovereignty of individual freedom, which is always limited by restriction of choice.
For many college students, this November is the first opportunity to participate in the democratic process. That’s why it’s important to protect individual rights and freedoms by voting for reproductive choice and women’s health.
Frank and Nigro are members of the class of 2009.