Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Birth control, abortion, and freedom of speech

Abortion: whether you’re for or against it is up to you. However, I strongly believe that regardless of your particular stance, legally individuals do not have the right to dictate to others they can or cannot do and this is what makes our society great. You may not agree with abortion but if you believe that you should have the right to renounce abortion as a viable choice then you should also believe that another has the right to promote abortion as a choice that every individual has the right to make.

I know there is an entire debate about the foetus’ right to life but for now, I’m going to save it for another day and another post. Whether you believe that abortion is right or wrong isn’t what concerns me most in the debate. What concerns me is whether or not you believe in freedom of speech and the rights of the individual because for me this is what the abortion debate boils down to at its core. I live in a society that is founded upon the idea of collectively agreeing to allow the person next to us, who we may not even like or agree with, to voice her/his opinion and to live according to their own moral conscience (within the confines of what we as a society agree to). Of course there are days when this collective agreement chaffs (hello, j-walking ticket for crossing on a green light with no traffic, yeah, I’m talking about you) but for the most part the rules are relatively benign and tolerable, and even for the greater good.

You may be a conservative supporter of the Harper government, which yes, makes me grind my teeth in frustration, but I respect your right to that choice. I may debate it with you or fail to ever fully understand it, hell I may even lose a bit of respect for you if we’re being honest, but I believe whole-heartedly that it is your right to hold that opinion and I would go to bat for you in order to support your right to express a view different than my own. (Yeah yeah, I’m a liberal leftie, big shocker there). You might love the Transformers movie, rap, not recycle, and think the arts are a waste of time: all of which I would argue with you about but ultimately accept. You might even believe in capital punishment and while I’m not entirely convinced of this path, I will respect your belief in the system and strive to understand the logic behind your belief. You might stand up on a podium and denounce everything I believe in and hold dear, and yet I would fight to defend your right to do so without fear of legal or personal consequences.

So why then is the same tolerance not given in regards to abortion? If you don’t believe in abortion then so be it. In fact, I’m not completely insensitive to some of the better arguments given in defence of the right to life movement. However, I become infuriated when someone actually believes they have the right, nay the moral superiority, to change the laws and impose their position on someone else, thereby forcing them to adhere to their belief system. If you believe in freedom of speech, religion, and lifestyle, then why is it ok to throw those things out the window when someone chooses a path that differs from your own?

News flash:

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom to speak as long as you say what I want to hear.

So what has prompted this little tirade you ask?

This article from Pandagon which discusses a particular group’s efforts to ban birth control, morning after pills and abortions. Not only is having 12 children (which is a very likely consequence of not using birth control, given that most people have a hard enough time taking their pills and using condoms) ecological irresponsible, attempting to remove an individual’s right to select birth control in order to make an informed reproductive decision is morally reprehensive and a violation of the female’s and couple’s right to autonomy. As much as I want a child of my own one day, I do not believe that it is the only viable role out there for people.

People, I don’t get it! People from around the world struggle to come to Canada and the USA in order to have freedom of speech, religion, and lifestyle and yet some Canadians and Americans are actively attempting to destroy that freedom. So you don’t share my beliefs, they’re not harming you. You don’t have to teach them to your children. You don’t have to live your life according to my moral strictures. But what you do have to do, what you agree to every day as a Canadian or American, is that I have the right to speak my mind and live my life free of persecution. And that is what you should be teaching your children. A little tolerance goes really long way…

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