It seems the news has been abuzz with stories of abortion and contraception of late. I’m not going to talk about the specific debates going on right now, for others more eloquent than I have spoken on it. Instead, I’d like to talk a little about a comment I’ve heard. It’s that women need this access to abortion and contraception in order to have the same opportunities as men.
Now, even leaving aside my views on the morality of contraception and abortion (I’m a faithful, orthodox Catholic, so there ou have my views), I find such a statement to be offensive. Why? Because, intentionally or not (and I think not, or will at least give the benefit of the doubt), it insinuates that I, as a woman, must suppress my femininity and maternity in order to have the same opportunities as men. Think about it. Instead of telling women they’re great the way they are, with their cyclic fertility and capability for bearing and nourishing another life, women are instead given a pill to shut down their healthy reproductive system and are told they can kill their children in order to not be burdened and not have to put a career or education on hold. Instead of ensuring women know about their bodies and cycles and are supported with adequate maternity leave (and even better, being able to work from home or bring children to work, as I was blessed in being able to do), we’re told to forget that and be more like men.
How is that respecting women? I get that people think it’s respecting women, on some level, but it isn’t. We don’t need to change ourselves to be like men. Men and women are different and unique and equal in dignity, but we needn’t be exactly the same to have the same opportunities, in my opinion. No, what is truly respectful is to acknowledge those differences, celebrate them, and ensure that those differences do not translate into a difference in opportunity or respect. At least that’s how I feel.