By Chaya Himelfarb
Member of VOX
Jan. 22, 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that decriminalized abortion in the United States. The Court’s decision affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to privacy and guaranteed the fundamental right to make their own personal medical decisions without encroachment from other individuals or institutions.
Despite this achievement, women who seek abortions to this very day are often confronted with state-enacted roadblocks, such as waiting periods and intrusive ultrasounds. Such measures are intended to shame, belittle and scare women who wish to do nothing more than exercise their right to autonomy over their own bodies.
Contrary to shaming techniques, abortion is a safe, common medical procedure; as a matter of fact, one out of every three American women will have an abortion at some point in her lifetime. Moreover, a majority of Americans believe that abortion should be safe, legal, accessible and left to a decision between a woman and her doctor, even if they don’t personally identify with either pro-choice or pro-life labels.
On an individual level, choosing whether or not to end a pregnancy can be a complicated, multifaceted decision that comes with a wide range of accompanying emotions, including sorrow. But there are just as many, if not more women, who experience much different feelings — feelings of conviction that they made the right decision, feelings of relief, and yes, even feelings of joy, with no hint of regrets or remorse.
For, at the end of the day, blame doesn’t stop abortion. It just perpetuates stereotypes about women who choose to end their pregnancy while simultaneously affronting them on a very personal level.
Ultimately, whether a woman chooses to continue her pregnancy, opt to make an adoption plan or choose to get an abortion should be her decision and not anyone else’s. And shaming a woman for her decision isn’t the way to go, especially when you don’t know her circumstances. It doesn’t matter if you’re pro-life or pro-choice — you’re not in her shoes.