Stop campaigning against my rights

Pro-choice protest on Brock campus in 2013 / stcatharinesstandard.ca

My body is not yours to control. I’ll say it one more time for the people in the back. My body is not yours to control. I say this to call out the protesters who situated themselves at the crosswalk between Brock’s main campus and East Academic last week. They were protesting my right, and your right, to have an abortion. Standing in the path of students trying to get to class or back to their dorms, these protesters carried giant posters featuring blown up photos of what they claim are aborted fetuses. Amongst them was one child who looked no older than 10 years old. We’ve all seen them around before. While the protesters were not physically violent, I consider their presence an act of violence against myself and the many young women on campus who do not need other people making decisions about what they can do with their bodies.

Abortion is legal in Canada and has been since January 1969, but certain restrictions were in place making it a difficult process until 1988. This change enabled women across the country to make a choice that was best for them, as the owners of their own bodies. Women choose to get an abortion for any number of reasons, all of them personal to the woman in question, and none of them subject to the approval of anyone else. If a woman does not want to be pregnant, she should not have to be. End of story.

Why do I support a woman’s right to choose? Because I support the rights of all people to control what does or does not happen to their bodies. Women’s bodies and what they can do with them have been regulated since before recorded history. Women used to be considered property. Women have been shamed for what they look like, for expressing their sexuality and even for being raped. As we push forward into a future where a woman might be elected president of the United States and women are heading up major corporations, do we really want to be a society that tells half of its population that they should feel guilty about making a choice that is right for them? Are we not beyond that?

If you still don’t understand what I mean, consider this: If I don’t like French fries, am I allowed to tell you not to eat french fries? Am I allowed to ban all people from eating French fries because I don’t like them? If I don’t like fries, I don’t have to eat fries. You have the right to eat fries anyway, and I have no right to shame you for it. While this is much more simplified, it’s still the same kind of idea.

The fact is, these protests won’t accomplish anything in the legal sphere. Abortion is legal and restricting, and it will continue to be a violation of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The only thing being accomplished here is guilt and shame and telling young women that though they have a right to their own bodies, you don’t think they should.

And so I say to the people who protest against abortion: You have the right to your opinion but your right does not cancel mine out. Stop campaigning against my rights. Put your focus onto something else, like open access to birth control and family planning, or affordable child care, or ending violence against women. These are real issues that matter to women, to people, everywhere. You can help instead of hurt.

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